Monday, March 30, 2009

CLEAN HOUSE by Linda Conrad

Anyone else addicted to the Clean House show on cable’s Style channel? There’s just something about watching clutter and dirt disappear that does this Virgo’s soul good. I can’t seem to get enough of having a place for everything and everything in its place.

For those of you out of country or without cable that might not get the Style network, Clean House is a TV show where professional organizers (who are also actors and comedians) are invited to come into a super messy house. They prod the occupants to get rid of stuff they don’t need in a yard sale, then they clean and paint and redecorate. It’s a before and after show of the first magnitude.

So, it’s spring again. Although I’m uber busy, I’ve been watching too much Clean House before I fall asleep at night and getting the usual urges to clean my own house. Especially my office. But I was also sick with the flu for a while and then I had jury duty. Putting it off was easy. Until…I received a huge carton of author copies for my April release for Silhouette Romantic Suspense, IN SAFE HANDS. I had no choice but to clean off a spot for them.

While I was cleaning, I began thinking about how much I love my office and some of the things inside it. I don’t know if everyone loves office supplies the way I do, but to me the smell of a new ream of paper sends me into ecstasy. The feel of a good ball-point pen in my hand is nearly erotic. I’ve always been this way. Even as a little girl, the best time of year for me wasn’t Christmas but the start of a new school year and those brand new pencils and notebooks!

I thought I would list a few of my current favorite office supplies. Many are terrific for the writing business and I don’t know how any author could survive without them. Others are meant for anyone who has a good home office.

Starting with:
Yellow legal pads. I buy them by the case. First, the bright canary color makes me smile and those straight green lines cater to my tidiness desires. The mere idea of filling up all that clean space with new story ideas or notes on characters or outlines for new workshops gives me a thrill. I use legal pads for everything: snatches of dialog that come to me in the shower, grocery lists, brainstorming plots, balancing my checkbook, keeping track of page counts. I know some authors argue they can do all of that better on their computers and with a lot less desk space. But I can take my legal pad into the garden and keep one next to the shower in my bath and never worry if the thing gets wet. Plus, I just like the way it feels in my hands.

Colored file folders. I’ve got nothing against manila. There’s a place for it. But color-coding my filing system makes my life so much easier. Yellow is for new plotting ideas. Red for dialog bits or research notes I’m collecting. Blue for articles or workshop ideas to write later. Green for handouts or notes I’ve taken at the workshops I’ve attended.
I never have to wonder where something is, and it looks so cheery every time I open a cabinet.

Jumbo paperclips. Keep your cheesy, sometimes-rusty, tiny metal paper clips. And you will never find one of those alligator snapping wire disasters meant to hold a gazillion pieces of paper in my office. Jumbos on the other hand are smooth, keep things neat, and are easy to use for two pieces of paper or many. I’m just sayin’.

Reference books for everyone. What would I do without my trusty Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary- Eleventh Edition? And ever since a writing buddy told me about the Flip Dictionary edited by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD, I couldn’t do without that either. Trying to think of a word and it eludes you? Don’t say it’s old age. We all do it. Maybe you can describe what you’re thinking about but don’t know the name for it? Then you need the Flip Dictionary. Plus, it’s a mini-encyclopedia. Need a list of all the varieties of cheese in the world? How about a list of the terms for different style wrenches? What a great tool!

Reference books for writers. I think I might need a new copy of The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale. Mine is so battered and torn from being used that it’s barely holding together by threads. This book is an absolute must for me. My other absolute must to use while designing characters is Are You My Type, Am I Yours? Relationships Made Easy Through the Enneagram by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele. It describes nine personality types and what types would make the best (or worst) lovers, soul mates or partners. My advice to writers is always pick two types that make the worst matches, it’s more fun that way.

Then there are the novels I have stashed in and around my office. Piles of ‘Keepers.’ Piles of ‘To-Be-Reads.’ Piles of ‘I’m in the middle of this one.’ I had to weed those out too in order to find clean space. But novels don’t really count as Office Supplies. (Maybe as reference books, though) However, when I start talking about novels, I usually can’t stop. And I do have to stop.

How does your office look right now? In need a good cleaning? Or are you one who can’t work unless the place looks like a disaster? (those people are said to be geniuses)

In order to help with my book clutter in my otherwise clean office, leave me a comment and I’ll pick two winners from all the comments left before Tuesday March 31 to win autographed copies of IN SAFE HANDS.

Linda’s Silhouette Romantic Suspense series, The Safekeepers, wraps up in April with IN SAFE HANDS. Don’t forget to drop by Linda’s website to find out what’s Behind the Book for the series, and register to enter her ongoing contest to win books and gift certificates!


RachieG said...

Hi Linda! :)

I'm sad to say it, but I worked Saturday and my whole house is a mess! I have tax papers strung around my computer, a stack of books next 2 my bed, and a dust monster in the front room!

I do love that show "Clean House" though! It's insane how some people live isn't it?

Becky said...

What a great post! I have to say my house is messy. To me a sparkling clean house is not a house that is lived in. I don't want to have to worry about every speck of mess. I have stacks everywhere. Someday it will be put away. I have an Aunt that keeps her house very clean, but don't look inside of her closets. The closets is where she keeps everything, including her cookbooks.

Linda Conrad said...

Hey RachieG!

Ohhh, taxes. Ugh. Definitely can't have a clean office while doing taxes. Give yourself a break until after April 15. Then, get back to watching Clean House.

Linda Conrad said...

Becky, I wasn't kidding when I said having a messy office is a sign of genius. Especially if you know where everything is in those stacks! I'm just allergic to anything that resembles clutter.

Maureen said...

Hi Linda,
I do enjoy Clean House and I find that as the weather is getting warmer I am definitely feeling the urge to get things in order and clear out stuff that I don't need.

Linda Conrad said...

Hi Maureen,
Don't know how much it feels like spring yet at your house, but we're feeling it here! Get out those dust rags!

Michelle Monkou said...

I'm so not the role model for dispensing advice about a clean house. My books from every conference are strewn on the book shelves and everywhere else.

I've managed to get rid of 8 bags of clothes as part of my house cleaning agenda. But with taxes and book deadline (yep, I picked really good excuses), I must halt any further tidying up until April 15 when both taxes and book are due.


Linda Conrad said...

Good answers, Michelle :)
But EIGHT bags of clothes? Wow, you are a goddess!

Caroline said...

Hi Linda - great blog - I read it and thought a "kindered soul" someone who loves stationary as much as me. It's a standing joke in our office that if you want anything "officy" then ask Caroline. I love Office World and all those massive superstores dedicated to the office we've now got here in the uk! I've even been known to ask for vouchers for birthday prezzies so I can indulge my fetish! I've even toyed with a great pen name - Barbara Ryman. Barbara in honour of Barbara Cartland and Ryman - a small scale office supplier! Caroline x

Linda Conrad said...

LOL Caroline! Love the pen name. Maybe I should change mine to Linda Staples (for you in the UK-that's our version of warehouse office supply store)
So glad to find someone who is obsessive over office supplies too!

Helen said...

Hi Linda

I too love all the stationary supplies I love going to the stationary room at work and browsing what they have and looking in the catalogue to see what I can order. I was there yesterday a picked up a really nice blue pen and it writes so nicely.
I do like my office neat and tidy and organized I don't have an office at home but do have my books as organized as I can with the room I have LOL.

I haven't seen the show Clean House but it sounds really good I do have paid TV here in Australia so I will have to see if I can find it on the channels

Have Fun

Linda Conrad said...

Ohh, if you like neat and orderly, Helen, you would love Clean House. Hope you can get it.

A blue pen. Hmm. I love colored pens too. Sign all my autographs in light, baby blue or purple. :)

Pat Cochran said...

Definitely not a Household Goddess!
I was brought up in a home with a
mother who mopped the floors every
day! When my children were small, I
did run a fairly tight ship in
regards to cleaning. In my old age, I decided to give myself a break and ease up somewhat. My computer desk is a mess but I do use colorful folders. Oh, and last month I did alphabetize my music library! (I'm also a Virgo!)

Pat Cochran

Linda Conrad said...

Hi fellow Virgo Pat!

Alphabetize your music library? Is that like actually putting your photos in folders? LOL Methinks you are more of a goddess that you let on.

Virginia said...

Hi Linda, I would have to say I am not organized at all. I do clean my bathroom and keep the floors clean but thing still seem to get cluttered. What must I do? I have never watched that show maybe I need to.

Linda Conrad said...

Yes, Virgina, there is hope for you too. :)
Try watching the show. If that doesn't motivate you, go to a Container Store (that's the name of the store) near you and wander up and down the isles looking at all the various ways to put your clutter into neat containers. It's a great motivator.

Pat Cochran said...

I meant to mention that I love the
baby on the cover of In Safe Hands!

Pat Cochran

Laurie said...

My husband and I have a couple of rental properties so I've learned to be more organized!! I have different colored folders for each year and seperate accordian folders for each area of expenses:insurance, water & sewer,repairs etc. It really helps at tax time!!
I can not live without a yellow highlighter, a sharpie pen and a stapler!
Books I have everywhere. I have a hard time giving any away!
I'd love to read "In Safe Hands"!!

Linda Conrad said...

Ah Laurie, a real soul mate. How do people live without a highlighter, a sharpie pen and a stapler? :)

Linda Conrad said...

Okay everyone, thanks for a great blog! My hubby drew names and RachieG and Pat Cochran won! Congrats! Email me your snail mail address and I'll send out your books. Send to: