The idea of creating a collage as a pre-writing exercise for a book has always intrigued me, but I’ve never actually made one. Partly because I can imagine myself getting caught up in a project like that and spending way too much time on it instead of on the actual writing, and partly because my creative abilities don’t extend to the art department.

Still, I tend to collect odds and ends that relate to my current project and I keep them on or near my desk. For my July 2010 book, Firefighter Daddy, I loved the story’s San Francisco Haight-Ashbury setting and had fun incorporating a little sixties culture into the book because the hero and heroine were both raised by hippie parents. Rory, the heroine of this story, still drives her mother’s old Volkswagen van, complete with painted flowers and affectionately dubbed “Vanna White.”

That theme is carried over to the bookmarks I’ve been using.

I also found this fabulous little toy hippie van and it’s been sitting on my desk—a source of inspiration and amusement.

Is this cute or what?

Someday I might try my hand at making a real story collage but for now I’ll settle for kitsch.

Until next time,

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Thanks for your fun post, Lee. Love the van with painted flowers and your own special van. I think it goes nicely with that painted bike of yours.

On my desk is an egg shaped white stone with black speckles I picked it up many years ago on Iona, the Holy Isle. I love the feel of it in my hand. It's like cuddling a magic egg!


Your egg does sound magical, Anita. I love the heft and smoothness of stones.


Love it! Reminds me of all those neat Barbie vans I played with as a child. And your bookmark is very sharp!


Barbie's van. Haven't thought of that in years. I think she also had a motorhome, but I was always partial to her pink convertible sports car 😉

Glad you like the bookmark, Gillian. Now that I have that gorgeous cover, I'll have to make new ones!


I love the van and yes, Lee, Barbie did have a pink motorhome. One daughter had that and the other had the convertible. Just thinking of applying all those fake mirror and headlight decals can still induce a cold sweat. LOL

I love your bookmark – unusual in a really good way.

Anita, I love the idea of your magical egg.

Years ago when I was working on a paranormal with a Rev War connection, I had a musket ball that I rubbed as sort of a worry bead whenever I was stuck with a scene.


Mary! In addition to my toy hippie van and Anita's stone egg, your musket-ball-worry-bead has me wondering what other quirky things writers keep on their desks. I think research is in order.


Your collection of odds and ends reminds me of Lani Diane Rich's "magic shelf" kind of collaging.
She assembled things that she associated with the book she was working on and set them up on a shelf. She could move them around, take them off, add to the collection…whatever she needed to do to keep the visual/tactile triggers helping her along.


A magic shelf! Thank you, Rachel. hat a brilliant idea. I especially love the idea of being able to move things around. Much dynamic than a collage with everything glued in place.

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