Studio Tour: Erica Goss and a Room of Her Own

Before I moved to this house, my office was a five-by-five space between the living room and the kitchen. I could open the refrigerator and grab a snack without getting up from my chair, but I had no privacy. The result was a lack of concentration, frustration, and a drop in productivity. However, I completed my book Night Court in that tiny office, so I guess I did get some work done there.

My current office is a room in the western part of my new home. I like that, because I have always loved both the word “west” and the direction “west.” It might have something to do with the spectacular smog-streaked sunsets I observed when I was a child in Southern California during the 1960s. The air is cleaner now, but I’ll never forget watching the red sun sinking into the Pacific on summer evenings. That sun appears in many of the drawings I made as a child.

I’m deeply grateful to have this space where I can work, this room with green walls and a quirky ceiling that goes in every direction. It has a door. It is private. Even though I have not occupied it for very long, it already feels like a sacred space. Virginia Woolf would be proud of it.

I do most of my work at the desk in the above photograph, but I also have an “analog” space with my grandmother’s 1932 Royal typewriter and a windup clock.

A triangle of light takes all afternoon to travel to the corner of the wall above the desk before it disappears. It reminds me of when Lily Briscoe says, “A light here requires a shadow there” in Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse. She’s talking about making a painting; a good poem is also a balance of light and dark.

I have a space on top of a bookshelf where I’ve collected a few mementos. The stuffed cat and teddy bear were my children’s, the Kalimba came from The African Store in Eugene, Oregon, the red car is from Dresden, Germany, and the book is a handmade art book I bought in California. I can’t remember where I got the Troll Doll. When I was a child, my aunt had a bunch of them and they fascinated me.

People often ask me where I get my ideas. Many begin as notes, doodles and sketches in journals. I started visual journaling about fifteen years ago – adding drawings, watercolor, and collage to the written word.

Here’s a journal page featuring a quote from Thomas Paine, some interesting postal stamps, some collaged images, and a note that might have made its way into a poem.

While pondering the meaning of life, Lily Briscoe concluded, “the great revelation perhaps never came. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark.” That’s what I want to discover, as the triangle of light travels across the wall in my green room. Like Lily, I try to “make of the moment something permanent.”

About the Author: Erica Goss

Erica Goss is a poet and freelance writer. She served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA from 2013-2016. She is the author of Night Court, winner of the 2016 Lyrebird Award, Wild Place and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets. Recent work appears in Lake Effect, Atticus Review, Contrary, Eclectica, The Red Wheelbarrow, Main Street Rag, Pearl, Rattle, Wild Violet, and Comstock Review, among others. She is co-founder of Media Poetry Studio, a poetry-and-film camp for teen girls. Please visit her at and connect with her on Facebook, Linked In, and Vimeo.

Studio Tour: Daryl Wood Gerber

What is an office? Is it a physical place or a location in one’s mind?

I have an official office in my home and—surprise!—I often write in it. It’s a confined space and keeps me focused. I post things on the walls above my computer that help keep me in the story—maps or notes. It looks a bit chaotic, but it’s not. I know where everything is.

I also have a kitchen office where I do most of the “business” side of my career. Emails, text messages, research, mailings, etc.  I have lists upon lists of to-do chores. I’m not going to share that photo with you. It’s just too messy to behold! Here’s a peek at my book covers, though:

I have an office “outside” in my backyard. I visit when I need to drink in fresh air, admire nature, and listen to my inner thoughts. Occasionally I type!

Roses are in bloom right now. I adore roses! When we lived in Charlotte, NC  (we moved a lot for my husband’s career and finally resettled in Los Angeles, where we first met), I had dozens of roses. They took so much tending that I wasn’t able to write as much. Nowadays just a few bushes seems to satisfy my hunger for tending and tweaking.

There are times when I have an “unofficial” office at Starbuck’s. I go there after I drop my adorable goldendoole Sparky at the groomer’s because the traffic is so clogged (so early in the morning) that I take an hour to simply write while the rest of the world moves past me.

I get some great ideas for characters at Starbuck’s. I also eavesdrop on conversations sometimes, just to hear rhythms of dialogue. I like a decaf café latte. One sugar. I usually bring something sweet that I’ve baked so it’s a real treat time!  [I’m a “foodie” mystery writer; I have to bake!]

Sparky likes to join me in the official office, so he has his “office” pillow and camps out there. He knows the exact moment I’m heading there—when I pour a cup of coffee and grab my computer and a treat for him. Off he runs. So cute! So smart!

Right outside the office is a little nook filled with pretty flowers. When we bought our house in Los Angeles, there was one ugly palm tree in the nook. Yuk!  It took a while, but we were able to create a truly meditative little space. I love to open the door and listen to the birds chirping and the wind chimes tinkling.

What I find difficult when I enter the office is all the other stuff that I have to “do.”

Yes, I’m supposed to write, but oftentimes I’m preparing for a release and I have release party gifts on my couch. I donate baskets to a few charities, too, so I have those baskets “in progress.” Plus I do regular giveaways on my Facebook Author page and on Mystery Lovers Kitchen, where I blog with other foodie-loving mystery authors. Argh.

Looking at the pile of goodies is enough to keep me from ever feeling creative, but PR happens to be part and parcel of selling books. So I remind myself to breathe.

What truly centers me when I enter the official office are all the photos of family on the walls. Everyone in my family has been so supportive of my career. I don’t know what I would do without them. I’m very blessed.

Savor the mystery!

About the Author: Daryl Wood Gerber

Agatha Award-winning and nationally bestselling author DARYL WOOD GERBER ventures into the world of suspense again with her second stand-alone novel, DAY OF SECRETS. Daryl writes the bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries and will soon debut the new French Bistro Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she pens the bestselling Cheese Shop Mysteries.

Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to read and cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Connect with Daryl (and her alter ego Avery):  FacebookInstagram | Pinterest  Daryl on TwitterAvery on Twitter

Studio Tour: Andi Cumbo-Floyd

Modern Creative Life Presents Studio Tours

Just now, outside my office, the sun is shining, and the golden days of autumn are descending with the few leaves that have begun what will be a deluge in a few weeks. Here on the farm, we are in the between time that is the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, and I am in the midst of it, even here in my office.


Every day, I work out of what was the summer kitchen on this old plantation here at the edge of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.


Most days, if the weather is at all temperate, I keep the door open to a wide view of the farm yard, the garden, and the cattle pasture beyond.  It’s the view the enslaved woman who was the cook here would have seen every day when she turned from the stove that once sat where my desk chair now settles.


The ceiling above is made of wide, pine planks, the ones that were nailed up right around 1800, and the floor mirrors the ceiling.  The walls have been sheet-rocked and insulation tucked behind to keep it temperate for me when I work, but some of the window panes still have the original wavy glass and a layer of film that is more than 200 years in the making.


I have a table in the corner that was made by my parents’ dear friend Steve more than 25 years ago, and on it rests a printer, paper, and the chicken-tending supplies we sometimes need when we become poultry vets for our flock who lives next door.


I work at my mother’s desk, and every time I open its single drawer, I am reminded of her because of the pile of pens there and because the scent pulls her to my mind, even now almost 6 years after her death.


We bought this farm almost two years ago now, and from the get-go, we knew this small building would be my office.


It’s close to the house – with a side door that gets me right to the kitchen for lunch – but it’s separate, so I can be free of seeing the dishes or the laundry when I’m working and free of working when I’m in the house.  Housework and entrepreneurship can be constant, so this separation helps reduce my stress and keep me sane.


It’s also ideal because our hound dogs, Meander and Mosey, can visit me here, sleeping in the rocker or on the bed at my feet, but then wander the farm and pastures when they’re so inclined. And I don’t have to open and close the door 500 times to allow them that freedom.


This space is also entirely mine. I painted it a golden yellow hue called “Macaroni and Cheese” because I wanted the room to be bright and warm, and I have adorned the walls with some old crutches – my husband finds them creepy – that we found in the attic above (the space where the cook may have slept), and in other corners, I have placed some of my mom’s quilts. I have art given and made by friends around me, and the bulletin board above the bookshelf filled with writing books is covered with reminders of why I do what I do.


This office is my haven and my remembering space. It’s sacred.

About the Author: Andi Cumbo-Floyd

andibio1Andi Cumbo-Floyd is a writer, editor, and farmer, who lives on 15 blissful acres at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, 6 goats, 4 dogs, 4 cats, and 22 chickens. Her books include Steele Secrets, The Slaves Have Names, and Writing Day In and Day Out.  Her latest book for writers – Discover Your Writing Self – will be available Oct. 3rd. You can connect with Andi at her website,, or via Facebook and Twitter.

Studio Tour: Kerstin Martin

Modern Creative Life Presents Studio Tours

When I started my own business 18 months ago I decided to rent an external office space. As a web designer I can work from anywhere but I wanted a dedicated professional location, it made me feel like I had a ‘proper’ job and eased the transition from decades of corporate life to self employment. I think mostly I was just worried that I would live in my pajamas all day and never leave the house! However, one year into running a successful and growing business I realized that I was ready to move into a home office and allocate the rent money elsewhere (like our mortgage). Best decision I made! While I miss some of the interaction with my former business community, which I still visit, I adore working from home.

I converted our third bedroom, which is quite small, into a cozy office den and I love it. I grew up in a 1.5 bedroom apartment with my mom and two siblings and because of this and my tendency to compromise space for location I am used to making the most out of a small room. My studio is in many ways a perfect reflection of who I am and it is filled with many personal items from my family and my travels. I love lighting candles in here and listening to my favorite playlists on Spotify or my preferred London radio station (thank you Internet!). Having easy access to my kitchen is another perk, now I can make myself a coffee or a healthy snack at any time. In the summers you can often find me doing some al fresco working on the balcony. Another plus is being able to go for spontaneous lunches or walks with my husband on those days when he also works from home. He has is own office corner in our guest room and I treasure being able to spend more time with him.

Having never been much of a 9-5 person I love how working from home allows me to find and honor my own rhythm, which in turn has made me more efficient and happier. Oh, and I also got myself an office assistant! He still needs a bit of training though, I think 🙂


How we get work done around here!


My view when I work. I always keep fresh flowers on my desk. There are many reminders of my mom here, who passed away unexpectedly last November: I made the turquoise penholder at a workshop I attended with her when she visited me in Massachusetts, the horseshoe and picture on the right used to hang on her kitchen wall, we bought the colorful cup at our favorite shop in London. My dad painted the picture in the red frame and my sister made the gold frame for me which holds a couple of polaroids from the tulip fields in Skagit County, taken during one of my mom’s visits. The blue glass paperweight is a present from my husband from a romantic weekend in Venice, Italy, about ten years ago. Office assistant on the right, hard at work 🙂


I love this diary with its weekly overview on the left and room for notes on the right. I try to keep my desk as clutter-free as possible.


My summer studio! Another thing I love about working from home is moving my office to the balcony when the weather gets nice. Even here I am surrounded by memories of my mom because creating a little oasis on our balconies was ‘our thing.’ When she visited she always sat in the chair to the right 🙂


The wall behind me when I’m working. I took the photo on the left at my favorite London market, the dandelion on the right during a walk with my mom in my hometown of Cologne in Germany. My mom gave me the cow about 15 years ago. The box in the middle is from her apartment, she bought that at the same London which we both loved visiting. The smaller box to the right is also from London, the three wooden letters on top of the box say YES and are a present from my friend Madelyn Mulvaney.


When I worked in corporate offices I never liked it when my desk was pushed against the wall because I don’t like sitting with my back to the open room. I need open room in front of me, ideally next to a window. Hence this configuration of my tiny space. My studio tells many stories: wall art to the left comes from my mom’s apartment. Antique wooden dresser from Bath, England, where I was living in a tiny apartment. Wooden box and old scale in front of my desk from Columbia Road Market in London. Office chair from Amherst College where I was the academic coordinator for the German department. I found this chair from the 1970s in their storage and I love it, it’s very comfortable. Sid Dickins tile on the wall to the right, a present from a close friend in Vancouver. And, of course, my office assistant being his usual efficient self! 🙂

About the Author: Kerstin Martin

kerstinmartinbioKerstin Martin is a Blogger and Squarespace Web Designer who specializes in creating stylish and affordable websites for small businesses and solopreneurs.

Originally from Germany she now lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her American husband and fluffy grey cat. She muses about life’s inner and outer journeys on her blog at

Studio Tour: Bernie Brown – Thimblelina & Me

Modern Creative Life Presents Studio Tours

The floor is the best surface ever invented for cutting fabric. Nothing falls off it.  There is always more room.  The only drawback is pins end up sticking into the carpet as well as my pattern pieces.

My sweet little Viking sewing machine has been my trusty soldier for over thirty years.  The last time I took it in for its yearly tune up, oiling and timing—which synchs the bobbin thread and the needle thread to form a clean stitch —the repairman said, “Don’t you ever use it? It’s perfectly clean.”

I replied, “I use it all the time and clean it after every project.”

And he said, “It’s a good thing because if it ever breaks, I can’t get parts for it anymore.” If that day ever came, I would weep and moan. I would tear my hair. Emergency vehicles may need to be summoned.

My sewing things live in a loft corner of our third floor family room. The arrangement has never varied for thirty years. Everything is positioned where I can reach for it without even looking or knocking it over.

I learned to sew by watching my mom, who used a thimble like a natural extension of her finger. I never mastered the use of this little tool with the funny name. I kept one at my house for Mom’s visits, and now that she’s gone, I keep it because it reminds me of her. The charmingly ugly little figurine with a thimble for a hat is called Thimblelina. During a brief stint as a stock boy at Hallmark, my middle-school-aged son bought her for me, a spontaneous gift I treasure.

My high school stone-age curriculum required Home Ec for girls. We struggled with our basic shirtwaists with varying degrees of success. Mrs. A, our beloved teacher, scolded me, “You press things to death.” I’m afraid Mrs. A never cured me of that. I can’t sew without an iron by my side. A skillful press job hides many a sewing sin. Near my workaday iron are two beautifully carved and etched antique irons from a Dutch flea market. They are from the era when hot coals put inside them provided the heat. Next to them sits a doll size ironing board and iron that my dad made for me in his woodshop. I love it not only because he made it, but because he got the pleasing angles of the ironing board legs exactly right. And the small iron is crafted of layers of wood, which give it character and interest. So, my sewing area includes not only working tools, but decorative models of them, too, which add a whimsical touch for me to admire as I work.

I have an accordion rack where I hang a number of scissors. Not sure how I acquired so many pairs. And there is all the other stuff a seamstress accumulates: elastic, pins, needles, measuring tape, thread, bobbins and a drawer overflowing with fabric scraps and dress patterns.

Thimblelina and I welcome you to my sewing corner. Just be on the lookout for pins on the floor. They tend to stick in the carpet.


My antique Viking. Long may she reign.


Bernie Scissorhands.


One woman’s thimble is another woman’s hat.


Iron’s plain and fancy.


This darling model would make any dress look good.


I wonder if the naked lady in the background would like for me to make her a dress.

About the Author: Bernie Brown

berniebrownI live in Raleigh, NC where I write, read, and watch birds. My stories have appeared in several magazines, most recently Every Writer’s Resource, Still Crazy and the Raleigh News and Observer. I am a Writer in Residence at the Weymouth Center. Get to know me better my website and connect with me on Facebook.

Studio Tour: Joanna Powell Colbert

Modern Creative Life Presents Studio Tours

My room at the top of the stairs is part art studio, part office, part writing space, part temple. I love every room in this house — it is a straw bale house that my husband and I designed and built 17 years ago — but this room is the heart for me. When we designed the house, we made sure that we each had our own creative space. His is filled with guitars, drums, and recording equipment. Mine is filled with altars, books, and art.


I love the sensual curve of the straw bale walls, painted a warm buttery color that keeps the gray Pacific Northwest winters at bay. I love the terra cotta tiles that remind me of New Mexico. I love the way the light spills in through skylight and windows, indirect in the mornings, full strength in the late afternoons through the southern and western windows. In the winter, I can see sunlight sparkling on the sea through bare tree branches. In the summer, I feel like I’m in a leafy green treehouse.

We begin in the East. On the eastern wall, I have an altar of beloved objects that I’ve collected here and there, as well as art that I’ve created and art that I’ve bought from artists I admire. Underneath the altar are drawers of office supplies, plus two printers (one archival) and a scanner.



In the South we find my 27” iMac, which is my digital art studio and the hub of my business. This is where I create my online courses, do website work, and the initial composition work for art pieces. Above the desk is a framed print of my painting Brigids Fire: The Offering (I sold the original). I think of her as my creative muse, fanning the flames of creativity in so many different ways. She also reminds me that every work of art — be it visual art, writing, teaching, or ceremony — is an offering to Her.


There’s a working altar in the South too, that stretches into the 18” straw bale windowsill. Here is where I do my daily practice. I make offerings of rosewater and copal to the Blessed Mother and use one of my rosary necklaces to say nine rounds of a Goddess rosary. I light a candle and pray for those who are suffering. Sometimes I light a piece of piñon incense (there’s New Mexico again!). I ask for daily wisdom and pull a tarot card for the day. I’m currently working with my own Pentimento Tarot as well as the Minoan Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince.




My art table is found in the West. These days I am working in two main mediums — beeswax collage (encaustic) — and colored pencils. I’m also set up for acrylic painting, but that’s taking a back seat these days. This is also the place I often write on my laptop, and it doubles as the packing and shipping table.



In the North, we find books. Books on art techniques, books about the Goddess, about nature, about tarot, about writing — my favorite themes. There is also a table here that I try to keep clear. It is often stacked with items that need to be shipped, or pieces of art I’m working on, or finished pieces. It’s a constant challenge to keep this table empty, but I love seeing the potential in a cleared table.



In the Center is the dance floor. I love taking dance breaks when I’m doing intense creative work!

Outside the four walls of this studio is the rest of our beloved Heron House. Outside the house, we find my herb garden in the east; the slough where the herons live and the bay where salmon gather, to the south; leafy woods and rocky beach to the west; and the meadow where the wild roses bloom, up the hill to the woods in the north. On a wider scale, the city of Bellingham and the great mountain Komo Kulshan (Mt Baker) lay in the East; the islands of the Salish Sea gather round in the South and the West; and beautiful British Columbia lies to the north.


We lived here for ten years before moving back to town for six years. We’ve been back for nearly two years now and don’t ever intend to leave again. My creativity has flourished in more ways than I can say since moving back. I am rooted here, in this studio, in this house, on this little island. Not a day goes by that I don’t offer up a prayer of thanksgiving for living here. It’s not something I take for granted.


May you also find your heart’s home and  be nourished by the creative studio of your dreams. Blessed be.

About the Author: Joanna Powell Colbert

joannapowellcolbert_bioJoanna Powell Colbert is an artist, writer, teacher, and retreat host. Amber Lotus Publishing Co. calls her one of “the most accomplished and well-loved artists in the Goddess-spirit community.” She was named by SageWoman magazine as one of the Wisdom Keepers of the Goddess Spirituality movement. Joanna teaches e-courses and workshops on earth-centered spirituality, the Divine Feminine, and tarot as a tool for inner guidance and self-exploration. A new edition of her first deck, the beloved Gaian Tarot, will be published in late June.  She recently released a majors-only art deck, the Pentimento Tarot and her seasonal e-course “30 Days of Midsummer” begins June 13th. She lives on a small island in the Salish Sea near Bellingham, Washington.

Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

Studio Tour: Stephanie Estrin

Modern Creative Life Presents Studio Tours

My creative space is my haven. I’ve taken over the upstairs game room and turned it into an art studio.

stephanie estrin writing

Before I begin painting, I sit down at one of my worktables that I have dedicated for the purpose of writing, reflecting and setting intentions for the session. I start by lighting sage and some incense. I feel it cleanses the air and myself.

It’s grounding for me. After that, I will pull a card from one or two my oracles decks. I feel that too sets an intention for me not just for painting but for my day in general. I will sometimes sit and work in my art journal or write in my writing journal. I use that to either work out something I want to try on canvas or dump out my thoughts to have a clear head to paint.

After that, I’m ready to begin painting. I select music to match my mood and get going. Music definitely informs my painting. I will listen to African drumming music, meditation type music, to top 40 hits or R & B/hip hop. I have a varied range.

stephanie estrin corner

In the left corner of the room I have a little altar with some talismans that are personal to me. I have a creative crystal grid laid out as well as some other crystals and stones that have special meaning to me.

stephanie estrin studio

I paint small pieces on the floor. I like to spread out with my paints all around me and just go for it. For several years that’s how I painted all my paintings regardless of size. My knees started to get sore from hours of either sitting cross-legged or on my knees. A few years ago as a birthday gift from my husband, I received a windmill easel. It has been a great asset to me now that I paint large most of the time. No more sore knees!


stephanie estrin full

The other side of my studio is filled with blank canvas ready for paintings to be born. My walls are filled with finished paintings and other paintings stacked against the wall. I’m quickly running out of room! At the bottom center you can see a painting started by one of my children. I have an open door policy with them to be able to create whenever the mood strikes them. I have all my supplies ready to go at a moment’s notice.


stephanie estrin worktable

Painting for me is a way for me to process my feelings and thoughts in the present moment.

My paintings are an expression of whatever is going on for me. At some point in the process, I get into a flow state where time seems to stand still. I become completely open with no active thoughts and become deeply immersed into the painting. I paint from my intuition with no real forethought about the outcome.

Paint is my language of communication. By using bright and bold colors I try provoke emotional responses from my viewer. My hope is that they will be uplifted. Painting has become a very important part of my life. If I don’t get a chance to paint for several days, I feel myself becoming uptight and anxious. Making art is good medicine for me. Art definitely heals!

About the Author: Stephanie Estrin

Stephanie Estrinstephanie_estrin_bio is a self-taught artist living in Austin, TX. Over the last several years she has been exhibiting in and around Austin, TX in juried exhibitions and group shows. In 2014, she had a painting published in the book Inspirational Quotes Illustrated, Art and Words to Motivate by Lesley Riley. She has 2 paintings to be published in the upcoming September 2016 issue of Incite 4: Rest, Restore, Renew – The Best of Mixed Media. She’s currently represented by Off the Walls Gallery in Shelton, Washington and Adams Galleries of Austin, Austin, TX.

Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

Studio Tour: Debra Smouse

Modern Creative Life Presents Studio Tours

First and foremost, I am a lover of words and the stories they create. I write because I must allow myself to unfold my own stories on the page. I do this as a way to teach and support my coaching practice. I create courses to help folks get from here to there.  I wrote about about Creating a Life You Love and published my collection as a book.

Most of all, though, I write because it’s how I unearth my own truths.

My writing studio is set up in the lower level of our home. We have a “basement walk-out” and so each morning, I commute downstairs. While I can easily walk outside and watch the golfers or the geese, I work better down here than I did when I worked upstairs in a room that faced the street.

A peek into the door reveals this vintage desk. It was John’s father’s desk and before that it was his grandfather’s desk. I love it’s shape but most of all I love the energy.

Debra Smouse Studio Tour - 1

I scatter favorite photos and sometimes candles here. That lamp is one I received for Christmas the year that I was 12 and it has illuminated many of my words over the last thirty-six years.

You’ll see my art, most of which consists of photographs I’ve taken. Photos that have special meanings. Like the Cherry Blossom photos I took the weekend I met John for the first time…subsequent peeks of DC  and Central Park in the Fall.

Debra Smouse Studio Tour - 2

And to the left  of the door you’ll find the only recycled item in my office: an old TV stand serves as a space to store cards, stationary, and cuttings from magazines for future vision boards.  I am in love with these document boxes and these soft bins.

And, of course, flowers. I love having fresh flowers in my office.

During holy seasons or pinnacle calendar days, this sometimes serves as an altar space (like for my “Spring Altar“)

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Yes, I chose this room due to its lack of windows because like Mark Twain, I’m curious about the world outside and therefore prone to distraction. And like Twain, my desk faces the corner.

I love this desk, by the way. It’s the Bedford Corner desk from Pottery Barn and it’s the first time I’ve ever invested in this kind of piece for myself rather than buy the cheapest thing I could find or making do with a recycled item from elsewhere in the house. It was an investment in myself and my work in a writer that went beyond the actual dollar figure spent.

Purchasing this desk was a sign of commitment to this life here in Ohio. A commitment to writing. A reminder of love, belonging, and sanctuary.

I have everything at hand: My planner, my journal,  and computer (with a new monitor on my wishlist). Favorite pens and of course space for the necessities of life (coffee) and favorite photos. Each item here has been purposely cultivated because everything has energy.

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To the left of my desk is a matching bookshelf with a stock of Leuchtturm1917 Notebooks in a rainbow of colors…I like having extra journals on hand because you never know when you’ll need a new one. The letters I’ve received are stored here …. and on top, one of my favorite photos of John (taken on our 2015 Vacation) and a stack of files for various trips and projects.

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Above my desk is my cork-board, where I have a variety of inspirational quotes and cards mixed in with calendars and  little note cards outlining various deadlines for projects.

I wasn’t able to find a board that I loved, so I had this one made at a local craft store, choosing a light-weight frame that matched all the framed art in my office and having them wet-mount cork instead of art.

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My Bookshelves are across my from desk. These bookshelves are the only furniture I brought with me from Texas to Ohio when I did that massive de-cluttering in 2010….Reference books and loved books abound. Old journals. More photos I’ve taken and framed. The final few copies of the 3rd printing of my book.

Scattered about are sacred talismans as well. Like on my desk, each item has been cultivated for my space. I quarterly look at each book and item to see what needs to go.

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Because sacred connection is important to me, I had this custom rosary made by Lunaea Weatherstone . It’s a “Goddess Rosary”. I told Lunae that I wanted an image of the Blessed Mother and she created this lovely collage for the medallion

(email her for your own custom piece – or friend her on Facebook to get a peek at rosaries in progress waiting for homes)

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Books for coaching and living stand alongside tokens and reminders. The lantern to remind me that my role is to serve as a light and guide for my coaching clients….and a Buddha candle holder and heart-shaped stone to remind me of my responsibility to tend my own soul.

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Books by dear friends, prayer cards and crystals and candles…and some of my beloved Trixie Belden books.

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A photo of John and I fooling around in a photo booth reminds me of the joy and laughter and love we share…and here, also, are tiny talismans: a rose quartz, a butterfly from the roses he sent me on our first Valentine’s…and these sit alongside my favorite books on love and intimate relationships.

Not pictured: the dozens of candles that make their way into my space. I light them as prayers for sick friends and when I begin a new project. I light ones for specific intentions, in honor of specific souls passed, and as a beacon of light.

Virginia Wolfe said that a woman needs a room of her own in order to write…and I am so grateful that I have this room to serve me as my writing studio.

About the Author: Debra Smouse

debra_Smouse_mclDebra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Create a Life You Love: Straightforward Wisdom for Creating the Life of Your Dreams. She resides in Dayton, Ohio where she practices the art of living with the Man of Her Dreams. When she’s not waiting for the mailman, you’ll find her reading or plotting when she can play her next round of golf. She’s the Editor in Chief here at Modern Creative Life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Studio Tour: Bernie Brown

Modern Creative Life Presents Studio Tours

My stories are born in my head, hands, and heart; but some practical tools are necessary to bring those inner visions to life. I have a pleasantly cluttered desk where I sit and write and think and procrastinate. Favorite reference books rest close by: a thesaurus, a dictionary, and an emotional thesaurus – the best book ever!

Each main character in my novel has a file, and I track when and where scenes take place by making notes on a calendar. Pictures of my family and friends sit close by to make me smile even when my writing makes me frown. And when I really feel discouraged, I look at my brag shelf to remind myself of past successes.

And every writer needs a widow to gaze at while they are dreaming up plots and dialogue, good guys and bad guys.

Welcome to my writing desk. You’ll find me here almost every morning.


At my desk with my trusty Acer.

I can’t write a paragraph without these three books.


Other essential resources: character files, calendar timelines, and pictures of writer friends.



My brag shelf holds all my published stories and essays.


I look out these windows when I’m stuck.



About the Author: Bernie Brown

berniebrownI live in Raleigh, NC where I write, read, and watch birds. My stories have appeared in several magazines, most recently Every Writer’s Resource, Still Crazy and the Raleigh News and Observer. I am a Writer in Residence at the Weymouth Center. Get to know me better my website and connect with me on Facebook.