Saturday, March 03, 2012

Writer's Workspace: Sandra Orchard

PHS is delighted to have a sneak peak into Love Inspired Suspense Author Sandra Orchard's fantastic office!

What a treat to be invited to share with you! I hope you enjoy this peek into my workspace.

Over the years, I’ve gone from commandeering small corners of the house to now having my own office with every organizational perk I’ve ever wanted. Like the journey to being published, my dream office took years to build.

My first investment was this large bulletin board, which I use as a storyboard. I divided it into four rows of five chapters each to see at a glance where my major plot twists should happen. When ideas come to me, I write them on post-it notes and then pin them in the general area where I think they might fit.

Along the side of the board are charts outlining the typical plot points I’ll want to touch on in the hero and heroine’s journeys.

The cupboard is great for laying out materials I’ve gathered in research, not to mention all that filing space. I love filing space, which brings me to my next acquisition…

I looooove this organizer. It’s actually a little empty since I cleared away the notes and drafts from my two now-published books. I keep workshop notes from online classes in the binders. For another series I’m working on, I use a portfolio with clear plastic sleeves to store the character, setting and plot details I’ll need to remember from book to book.
I use that spool of paper on the bottom right shelf when brainstorming. I write out ideas and connect them like a giant mind map diagram.

Of course, my desk is the heart of my writing center. My husband gave me the iMac for our anniversary last year. Isn’t he a sweetheart? It’s made a world of difference to my productivity--much less fatiguing than working on the old PC laptop and 100x faster. I use MS Office for Mac, and save my documents to Dropbox. That way, when I want to sit somewhere else to write or edit, the documents sync to my netbook.

A few weeks ago I added a RollerMouse Pro 2 to my ensemble. It’s a roller bar that sits below the keyboard so that you don’t have to keep reaching to the side for the mouse. Hopefully, this will relieve the repetitive strain of hours spent at the computer. I’m also contemplating adding a ball chair to help tone those stomach muscles at the same time. Yes, I’m serious! I see that they now sell them with swivel bases. Of course they wouldn’t offer the same toning benefit, but I’d hate to give up my ability to swivel because this is the other side of my desk.

Yes, I know. I am totally spoiled. Of course, I’ll often curl up in the recliner near the woodstove with my notepad and pen, instead. Words seem to flow more effortlessly when writing in longhand.

One last item I want to share is a screenshot from my computer. For years I’d heard authors who use Macs rave about Scrivener software, so to celebrate the release of my debut novel last fall, I treated myself to the software. Ironically, now that I finally have a Mac, they’ve just released a PC version!

I’m currently using Scrivener to organize my next book. I’ve barely scratched the surface of its extensive capabilities, but I love how I can keep my research files, photos, character sketches etc., at my fingertips along the right sidebar, as well as, scene summaries, notes and a myriad of other details along the left sidebar. The screen pictured is called the storyboard which lines up all the notes I’ve made for each scene, or in this case, plot ideas I’ve collected. The only downside so far is the need to repeatedly export scenes to a Word doc to send to my critique partner.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this cyber walk through my office. Have I inspired any changes to your own workspace?

Sandra Orchard hails from rural Ontario, Canada where inspiration abounds for her romantic suspense novels set in the fictional Niagara town she's created as their backdrop. Shades of Truth (March 2012) is the second book in her Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense series, Undercover Cops: Fighting for justice puts their lives—and hearts—on the line.
Sandra is currently running a giveaway on Goodreads. It close soon.

Sandra enjoys offering her readers book “extras” to enhance their reading experience. You can check these out, along with other resources for readers and writers, at her website: or connect at:


  1. Sandra I'm so impressed by your office. It's great! I'd looked at scrivener but wasn't sure, you might just have sold it to me!

  2. Scarlet, I hope you enjoy it. I love how it keeps all my documents organized and available at one click from the main screen. And I know it has many capabilities I'm not even exploiting.

  3. Sandra, I'm so impressed with your writing space. You seem so organised! Love the idea of the story board. I have a corckboard beside my desk but it's filled with cards and pics that make me feel good and some that are to help with inspiration the the current story.

    Thanks for joining us. I love romantic suspense so I'll be keeping an eye out for your books.

  4. Okay, I have a confession, Angie, I tidied up before taking photos. If I took one at this minute, you wouldn't see my desk or counter for papers!! But I do know where everything that's organized, right? :)

    Inspiring pics are great. I have an 8X10 of my 10 month old granddaughter smiling up at me from my desk now. Very good at cheering my up when the words don't want to come. :)