Writers, Clutter and Maids To Match by Susan Meier

My critique partners have persuaded me to try Skype. That’s the video teleconference type calls that allow you to see the person you’re speaking with. Deb and Jen already Skype. They’re not necessarily more progressive than I am. I just think their offices are cleaner.

What is it with writers and clutter? Years ago, when I worked day jobs I could walk into my office, even around my desk without tripping over something.

Now that I’m a stay-at-home writer I have stacks of drafts, big calendars that I use as storyboards, boxes and boxes of foreign copies and reference books, and a laundry basket and 2 huge boxes I laughingly refer to as my to-be-read pile.

Sorting through that pile today (since Skyping means my friends will see this hell pit and I can’t have that!) I found a lot of books that don’t interest me. So why did I buy them? Was I working to satisfy my inner librarian, wanting to have books from every genre available? Or do I genuinely believe, deep down inside, that there’s an apocalypse on the way and when it hits I’ll be the most popular person in town with my books to lend?

Maybe deep down inside I want to be a library!

But whatever the reason, my office is always in conflict with my inner clean freak. I love a clean house. I love Swiffers. Both the cloths and the mops and the little vacuum thingie. I love spray cleaners. Especially for tough spots or unexpected spills. I think the invention of paper towels should be celebrated with a national holiday. (Though environmentalists and landfill operators might disagree.)

I think that’s why I wrote a duet about maids! I can see the sunny side of cleaning. I love the feeling I get when I take my final mop swipe in the kitchen and sniff the Mr.-Clean-with-Fabreeze-scented air. I love the sense that I’m making a home for my family.

And that’s the heart of the two heroines who appear in my summer duet for Harlequin Romance, MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE and MAID FOR THE SINGLE DAD.

In book 1, Liz Harper left her husband Cain Nestor, the hero, because she never quite felt good enough for him. After their divorce, her self-esteem was so low that she took a job cleaning houses, only to discover that making houses into homes lifted her spirits. And earned her cash. She quickly began her own maid service and uses that company to not just “clean up Miami” (LOL) but also to give jobs to abused women who need a self-esteem boost.

Really? A self-esteem boost as a maid? Sure. Sometimes life is all about how you look at things. If you’re struggling to make sense of your life, clean something. Straighten a closet, clean your office, organize your junk drawer. That one little job will give you a boost because you’ll know that at least one thing in your life is in order.

Then start organizing other things. Don’t rush or be in a hurry. Do one drawer, one closet, one desk, one sink full of dishes at a time. And step by step, day by day, order will be restored. So will a big chunk of your sense of self esteem.

Of course, I’m not a therapist and some people definitely do have problems bigger than those that can be solved by taking control of your housecleaning. Liz and Ellie (the heroine from book 2) find this out every day in their work for A Friend Indeed, the charity they support.

But you’d be surprise how good you can feel if you’ll just take the time to organize something, anything, in your house!


Would you like to win both Maid for the Single Dad and Maid for the Millionaire?  Susan is giving away both books to one lucky reader.  Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the drawing!

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50 thoughts on “Writers, Clutter and Maids To Match by Susan Meier”

  1. I’m trying to organize my house room by room. We are in the process of decluttering our basement. Everything, everything!!! ends up down there before I’m willing to throw or give it away. My 4 children are out of the house so I’m also slowly working through old school papers they saved from kindergarten on.

    I’d love to have a maid. I try to keep up but I swear dust multiplies exponentially. I dust and a day later it’s back!! I do bathrooms every other day because I hate mold. I’m also allergic to it.

    I’d love to read your MAID series. It sounds delightful!

  2. Hi Susan! Maybe the stuff in an author’s office multiplies when no one’s looking . . . the papers on my desk do! Really enjoyed your post and the covers of your books are just lovely. Thanks for visiting Petticoats & Pistols!

  3. Hi, Susan! The story lines for both of your “Maid” books sound terrific! I am an only child, and I once worked as a housekeeper and child care provider for a family with five children. Talk about an eye-opening experience! I really loved those kids, and I cried my eyes out when I left to take another job. I felt like I was leaving part of my own family behind!

    I am a fairly organized person, but hey, we can’t cover all the bases all of the time. I taught myself not to be overwhelmed by the “big picture”. If you start whitlling away at the smaller issues, you will soon have a good grip on tackling the larger matters! Do what you can, when you can.

  4. Hi Susan! What a nice post both about your books and giving us a little inspiration around the house 🙂
    I agree…de-cluttering your house has such a huge affect on your mind! When I organize something junkie I feel GOOD and clear in the head. I hate to be a waster though…so my problem lies there…plus with three little ones running around it’s a constant battle in our small house…fortunately I have a “tote” shed out on our little farmette (as there is no storage in the house). I have probably 100 totes labeled with “stuff”. Mostly kids stuff….

    Anyhow–back to your books…I love that they are not only a love story…but kind of a self-help/counsel sort 🙂 and that the characters support worthy causes and are changing the world from where they are.
    That’s a lot to pack in.

    Sounds like they are both great stories and thanks for giving us a chance to win them!

  5. Hi Susan! I enjoyed your post! I go to work everyday to an office I keep so organized someone might think noone works there. My bosses desk looks like a hurricane blew through and left distruction in it’s aftermath! It drives me crazy. Then there is home. I love my doting husband dearly but his clutter drives me crazy! He is a full time pastor but has a part time physical labor job as well. He gets home before me and what was cleaned when I left looks like my bosses desk when I come home. He has a habit of leaving every drawer and every cupboard door open. I mention it to him teasingly and it helps for awhile but then he’s right back to it. Our dining room table has become his ‘catch-all’. Drives me crazy..maybe there is a book idea right there!

    Well, it’s Saturday morning and it’s time to start organizing again… 🙂

    May each and every one stopping by today have a blessed organized day! 🙂

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W


  6. Laurie!

    I hear you on the return of dust! I think that’s why we sometimes get discouraged with cleaning.

    But it sounds like that will never happen to you! LOL

    I think you will like the two maids’s stories!


  7. Victoria!

    Remember the Tribbles on the original Star Trek! That’s what I think the papers on an author’s desk are like. Those multiplying little furry things! LOL


  8. Tabitha

    I genuinely believe that organizing your world and helping other people is the best way to help oneself.

    I don’t like to preach in my books, but let my characters “show” how good the world could be if we’d all stop for a minute and help somebody.


  9. Cindy

    I feel your pain! There’s nothing worse than sharing a house with someone who won’t close drawers! LOL

    I sometimes think men believe women were put in their lives to organize them! LOL! LOL!

    Nice to see you here at P&P


  10. Virginia

    I agree! You really have to look at the big picture and not be overwhelmed by the small things. What’s the saying? Don’t sweat the small stuff!

    The family you worked for sounds great. What a fun job that would be!


  11. I have to admit I’ve already ready Maid for a Millionaire and loved but am patiently waiting for Maid for the Single Dad. I have to admit when I’m reading a book the dust piles up but it waits for me around here.

  12. OOOOh, Cathy, there’s nothing a writer likes to hear more than that a reader let dust pile up to finish her book!

    I have to admit to absolutely loving writing Maid for the Millionaire and Maid for the Single Dad. Both books just flowed. The characters were immediately real to me.

    I’m glad you liked MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE!


  13. Susan, I admit I’ve always in awe of the way you actually enjoy cleaning. I have a feeling your office will be more than clean by the time you Skpe with Deb and Jen.

    I’ve already had the pleasure of reading Maid for the Millionaire and it’s a wonderful story. I ‘ve recommended it to many people and I’m sure I’ll be doing the same with Maid for the Single Dad.


  14. Hey Susan! Welcome to the Junction. Um, clutter–well-that’s my middle name. I have given myself a deadline to get my office de-cluttered, but I’ve done that before without success. Wish me luck–this time. 😀

  15. Hi, Susan. You’ve touched on lots of items of interest to me. (1) I loved your comment, “I just think their offices are cleaner.” Good point! (2) Years ago I too had a clear desk/floor. Now that I work from home, I have a cluttered desk/mind. (3) I have lots of books no longer of interest to me, so I have girlfriends come over to take their choices away permanently. (4) I think it’s great when you can find joy in ANY profession, so thanks for sharing these stories. (5) I love organizing shows and have read hundreds (I keep track) of time-management/organizing books. Right now I’m watching a TV show called Hoarders and it really inspires me. Speaking of which, my housework is calling me so I’d better go. Thanks for a GREAT blog!

  16. Thanks, Denise! It’s so much fun when people begin reading the book and tell me! LOL

    Yes. The office is aleady seeing the light of day. My desk seems to be the one thing I can declutter!


  17. Tracy, I wish you luck, but also…Have some fun with it.

    Seriously, if you can’t have fun cleaning when can you have fun?

    I buy special tools, make sure I have yellow gloves and enjoy the day.

    Of course, I do weirdly like cleaning! LOL


  18. Laney I think that once we begin working from “Home” we fall into that “I’ll do it tomorrow” trap.

    When we have a day job, we’re never really sure when we’ll get another chance to organize, so we are forced to do it now!

    I wrote a book a few years ago called THE TEN MINUTE SOLUTION…it was actually about 15 years ago. I beat everybody else to the title! LOL

    But I never got it published. My theory is tht if you do one ten-minute task every day on a bigger project before you know it, it will be done…or at least well organized!


  19. I have trouble with my book cases. I would like to keep all my books forever but just can’t. I keep moving books from shelves to storage boxes. But I do keep a list of the books so I will know which box they are in and I can find them when I want to.
    I always wanted to open a used book store but can’t bring myself to sell my books. I do share them with my sisters.

  20. Goldie

    You are definitely in touch with your inner librarian like I am! LOL

    I took my paperback books and begin storing them in my bookcase 3 deep. This way instead of one row on each shelf I have 3!

    You’d be surprised how many more books you can keep that way.


  21. @Goldie, I wish I had a bookcase or bookshelves! (So does my husband.) My books are on the top shelf of my closet and I would love to display them. 🙂

    Susan, I need to organize my basement. I really need to be like my sister, who is a Martha Stewart. She has tubs to organize her things and I think it’s a great idea. Pat on the shoulder, though; I did organize the pantry and the linen closet.

    Your books sound great. We all need to find an activity or job that fulfills us and if it is being a maid or a cook or stay-at-home mom, etc., then more power to you.

  22. I always have a bag of stuff to give away but more stuff always seems to take its’ place. I dpmate most of my already read books to the library book sales.

  23. Your books sound wonderful!

    I LOL at the boxes of books that are your TBR pile, I am the exact same. I have books I bought last summer I haven’t even managed to crack the covers of yet, and still, I buy more. Must be a sickness!

  24. Karyn

    Or maybe it’s an indication of the number of wonderful books that are being published?

    Seriously, I can’t visit a bookstore without coming back with ten books because there are so many great ones and great authors.


  25. Are we twins? I had to smile from the very beginning of your post to the end. If my husband saw it, he would ask if I had written it, except for the books you wrote. I do have a full library in my house, with something from just about every genre on my shelves. I have over 40 full bookcases and 30 to 40 boxes of books with no place to call home. As you can see, it is no little problem. My name is Pat, and I am a Bookaholic : ) Yes I am feeding my inner librarian and have been for years. I was a children’s librarian until loosing my job just a few months ago.
    Anyway, the house is a disaster. Clutter all over. The problem, we bought an 1898 Victorian farmhouse which needed to be gutted and redone. We have been playing musical rooms, musical boxes, and musical furniture for way to long. We are almost done, but in the meantime, things got away from me. Not only do we have all our own furniture, but acquired the complete households of 2 relatives when they passed away. At first I didn’t have the heart to sort their things, then I didn’t have the time. My boss moved and I offered to take care of what she didn’t take. I choked when I discovered she had left over half her stuff. It took me over a week to box her stuff and bring it to my house. I was making some progress sorting and giving away her stuff when a friend closed her antique & gift shop and brought everything to me to take care of (she is in her 80’s). Then I lost my job and I didn’t realize how much stuff I had at the library . We have been walking through paths in the boxes.
    I know I am making progress in sorting things out, we have brought truck loads of thing to three charities we work with. The problem is, it doesn’t seem to make any difference. I am convinced these boxes reproduce at night. I flew into a panic last week when my sister said they were stopping overnight. They live 15 hours from here and have never visited. It took me a few days to dig a path to a bedroom and fix it up for them. I’d hire a maid, but I think any maid in her right mind would take one look at the house and run the other way.
    I know all the ways to declutter and I am using them. I have experienced the joy of an organized drawer or finding our pool table, even briefly. There is just too much, and I won’t throw anything away that can still be used by someone. (I’m afraid I am a reuse/recycle person) It take a bit more time to do it that way, but I have a clear conscience when I am done and someone else is benefitting from it.. I know that all of a sudden I will look around and it will be done. I love a clean house and used to have a really neat one. It will be that way again one of these days. Soon I hope.

    Sorry this was so long. You obviously struck a nerve. Your books sound good. Maybe I could send some of my stuff to A Friend in Need and support that charity. Have a great summer and good luck with your organization projects.

  26. organization, what’s that!! lol. We have been downsizing for app. 6 months and I see daylight but there is more to be done. Some charities came away with a lot of my stuff as did friends and new people in town. It gives one such a good feeling to declutter, doesn’t it.!!
    As said, one step at a time. Take care.
    The maid books sound great for a fun read.

  27. Actually, Patricia, it sounds like you should open a shop!

    They say that we’re always doing exactly what we want to be doing and behind things we hate are good motives (our motives for doing things like staying at jobs we hate being a need for money for instance)–so maybe you’re taking on other people’s junk because deep down inside you want to make sure it goes to a good home.

    If that’s the case maybe there’s a secondhand store or antique shop in your future?


  28. Robyn

    It’s definitely one step at a time! I don’t think anybody should declutter without thought. Once (decades ago) my husband tossed about 1/2 of our elementary-school-aged kids’ toys while they were in class.

    They returned and were sort of shellshocked, but got over it. Unfortunately, as the weeks went on they discovered more and more things they loved were gone. It’s been trauma for them ever since…LOL!!!

    So slow is good.


  29. I’m very good at keeping my bookshelves tidy, I seem to have a little less reverance for everything else though. I could use a little assistance from your two heroines. I’m currently on your de-clutter a little bit at a time plan with my closet, it may take the rest of the year.

  30. Even if it takes the rest of the year, Summer, imagine how good you’ll feel when it gets done.

    I love to work when my office is clean…when it’s cluttered even writing seems difficult.


  31. Enjoyed reading the comments. I feel your pain since my computer room looks like utter chaos. I tell my husband I know what is in every pile or stack. Why doesn’t he believe me?
    Somehow, walking into an organized room makes me leery since I am afraid I will put something down and someone will be right there to pick it up. How fun is that?
    The books with maids in them sound really good.

  32. I love knowing that there are so many of us out there dealing with clutter! My summer plans for the last three years have been to de-clutter my house. Something has always come up to stop that from happening. A broken leg one year and family in the hopital another. Now I am down to one month left and I am no further than I was last year. I would have to clean like a tornado to allow a maid into my home!

  33. I am a very organized person, but I hate to dust… I like to keep everything neat, but I really hate to dust! You dust in my house and it comes right back…. blah…
    Your books sounds great!!!! 😀 Thanks for sharing your post with us today!

  34. My husband and I always say there is never a horizontal surface that remains uncovered in our house. But the truth is, when I am upset or fretting, a good decluttering goes a long way to helping me feel in control of a situation.

    We recently thought we would be putting our house on the market, downsized our collections of knickknacks and books, took things off the walls, stored furniture in the attic and the real estate agent STILL said, “boy, you all have a lot of STUFF”. And I had cleaned up my card studio!

    Our mantra when we see some “thing” we must have is, “will this be in a yard sale? Is this STUFF?” And we walk away…

    Love your writing.

  35. Connie, I have a niece who actually cleans before her housekeeper comes in. She makes me laugh. but she claims she only straightens up, the housecleaner actually cleans!

    We talked last night with our son about the things he’s saved over the years and he’s quite a pack rat. But everything he’s saved is something with a memory attached.

    Maybe this is why we have so much trouble decluttering? memories!


  36. Colleen

    Dusting is a thankless, pointless activity, since the dust only returns!

    Thanks for the kind words about the books.They’re two of my favorites…though authors aren’t supposed to have favorites, I truly loved these two books!


  37. Julie, I had to laugh at your post. I recently “nearly” bought some cooking things at a fancy you-must-have-this-to-really-cook-well store. I had them in a basket, but before I got to the checkout, I thought…Oh, my gosh! Where am I going to put these?

    I seriously believe people who cook well have to build a wing onto their houses to store their fancy cooking tools!


  38. Estella!

    I think EVERYBODY loves the lived in house. Those are the most comfortable. People are afraid to make a wrong move in the show-piece house!

    Thanks for the compliment on the books. I loved them! LOL


  39. Hello to all,

    Had to laugh at the Skype/bra comment but I could
    so connect! When I come in, I usually head for the
    computer and lose the shoes first of all, a little
    later I remove the bra. If someone knocks at the door, I have to glance around to make certain that
    my discarded clothing is not visible!

    Pat Cochran

  40. Oh, Pat! ROTFL!

    I write in PJ’s. Sometimes I’d get so engrossed in a scene that I’d forget myself. If the Fed Ex man would knock…well, poor guy!

    I started keeping a robe in my office.

    Writers have some great stories. LOL!!!


  41. I wish I was more organized than I am but there’s always tomorrow. I don’t know much about Skype but I could see where it would come in handy.

  42. Linda

    My son thinks I need a blackberry. He thinks I could toss half my papers and notes if i’d just catch up with the technology. I just envision myself losing the darned thing and not knowing anything about my life! LOL

    Tomorrow will be my first skype. I’m excited. 🙂


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