Currently Browsing: Getting Inspired

Introduction and Inspiration

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Don’t Wait to be Inspired

Ideas are not something I struggle with. I’ve got a million of them. When I get a new idea I make a note of it in a document I keep, and when I’m done with the project I’m working on, I go to my list to start the next book. (If you’re anything like me, you feel kind of “detached” when you don’t have a writing project you’re actively working on.) Anyhow, it’s once I get started on the project that issues sometimes arise. My desire to write and tell stories are enough to motivate me toward attacking the new work, but what I’ve found is they sometimes aren’t enough to sustain me. I have at least five to ten MG and YA manuscripts in varying stages of completion cluttering up my Dropbox or Google Drive. While I won’t say I abandoned them, I will say I’ve told them “It’s not you; it’s me.” So what made me walk away? Once the initial internal drive wore off, I simply lacked the motivation to keep going. Now I know myself well enough to know I could attack these anew and brute force them into being—and to be honest, I will most likely revisit the majority of them to see them to completion, but at this point I just don’t want to work on a project that I don’t love. Why? If you follow agents and editors very closely at all, the single common trait for all manuscripts they acquire seems to be their undying love for that manuscript. If that’s the case, how can I put forth a manuscript that I can’t get behind with the whole of my passion? I can’t. Which leads me to how to maximize my writing time. These unfinished manuscripts I’m alluding to aren’t just a couple thousand words. I may be fifteen, twenty, or even thirty thousand words in. (Yes, I know I should finish them. I will.) But until then, I’ve found a better way to make sure I’m invested. We all have passions—topics or ideas that hold our attention in a book, movie, documentary, show, article, anything. So what I did was make a list of those things, whatever they were. For me, among other things, my list contains aliens, monsters, and mysterious treasure. Soooo, I try to write stories that contain a combination of elements on my list. By doing this, I know I will be more invested in my book, AND... read more

Musings on Inspiration

“Let my inspiration flow In token lines suggesting rhythm That will not forsake me Till my tale is told and done.” –       Grateful Dead Lady with a Fan “Inspiration, move me brightly light the song with sense and color, hold away despair More than this I will not ask faced with mysteries dark and vast”-Grateful Dead Terrapin Station My father is a big time Grateful Dead fan and I have been listening to them since the womb. It is no wonder that when I hear the term inspiration I am reminded of Robert Hunter’s lyrics (The full lyrics of the above songs Folk music, stories in a song are possibly my earliest inspirations. Before I could read, my Dad was playing them on the guitar or telling me legends. Growing up in Connecticut I lived by the woods. I was fascinated by tales such as Sleepy Hollow. The trees were so tall and had many rings that made them seem to have been there for ages. Surely, they knew stories of early settlers or the natives. It was almost as if I listened closely, the wind might whisper forgotten voices or the brook might babble about lost villages. Often I’d go out for a drive with my Dad. He’d listen to his music and chat. I would stare off into the trees and crumbling stone walls. I grew up with asthma, but was pretty athletic. I found the more I pushed myself the more I could eventually do. In high school I began running outside of soccer and softball. Again I would listen to music and stare off at the trees. My mind always somewhere else, which isn’t the safest while running (Don’t worry. I face traffic so I can dive out of the way in time). Today I find I get a lot of my inspiration on my runs. I run at various times of day, but mostly in the morning. I love the smells: bacon and eggs, dryer sheets, exhaust. I see embraces, what people wear in the morning, and bus stop interactions. I feel the sun, the rain, my sweaty shirt cling to my skin. I take everything in. Of course my blood is pumping and it gives the added feeling of adventure/action. The runner’s high has the pleasant effect of making my ideas and imaginings seem extra awesome. As I run, I solve story problems and have whole conversations in my head. I am... read more

Inspirations – When music creates stories, characters

Most authors agree on the power of music when writing a story. I’ve read several acknowledgements at the end of novels where authors directly credit songs with impacting part of their work, if not the whole piece. Some writers enjoy listening to inspirational music while they write (such as my friend Linda Fry, author of the Trinity Key Trilogy. Others, like me, may prefer silence while writing, but will then use music in our downtimes to inspire the favorite scenes in our novels, or even entire story concepts. Here are a few of my beloved inspirations, and maybe you’ll share some of your favorites as well! Concept music One of my best finds in the past year is Liquid Cinema. My discovery of this company is a good story all by itself. I was watching a trailer for the 75th anniversary release of Gone with the Wind, and most of the music was from the movie, except for one excerpt during a particularly dramatic part of the trailer. I searched far and wide to find out whose instrumental music this was, even making a deal with a girl in Japan for us to help each other locate it. Four months later, I discovered a board discussing that specific part of the trailer and its music, and was introduced to “Era” by Liquid Cinema. In that song, I pictured a whole movie trailer for my novel Fortune, and even changed some scenes to have more dramatic visuals because of the composition. Other “whole concept” music for me includes “Soldier of Fortune” and “Aeterna” by Liquid Cinema, as well as Le Reve’s “Overture” by Benoit Jutras. Scene music The first time I really thought about “scene” music was when I was thinking about the final scene of my Teen Mobster Series, a wedding in Covert Criminal (because what Mafia series shouldn’t have an Italian wedding?). Strange as it was, I could see a montage of the wedding to Colbie Caillat’s “Brighter than the Sun”. It just made me happy, even if it didn’t scream Godfather-type wedding. Then there was Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up”  and The Script’s “Living in the Hall of Fame”  for my YA novel Fierce. Finally, “Hangin’ By A Thread” by Jann Arden and Labyrinth’s (with my favorite Emeli Sande!)“Beneath Your Beautiful”, which I first heard on So You Think You Can Dance episodes, were perfect for my dramatic YA contemporary When The Monsters Come. Anyway, the list... read more

Kick-Starting Your Writing

If you’re like me, you have never been on a motorcycle. The idea is intriguing, but it was hard enough for me to learn to ride a bike. Add in seeing a few motorcycle accidents and watching a friend get pinned under one, my desire to rev that engine is now next to nil. Then, I read something like this: “I had a dream about a motorcycle,” said Harry, remembering suddenly. “It was flying.” Uncle Vernon nearly crashed into the car in front. He turned right around in his seat and yelled at Harry, his face like a gigantic beet with a mustache: “MOTORCYCLES DON’T FLY!” Dudley and Piers sniggered. “I know they don’t,” said Harry. “It was only a dream.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone What if motorcycles could fly? Or pigs could talk? Or chickens could dance? I’ve seen all these things happen in the pages of books. But how do people get these ideas to begin with? (I was going to make an amazing analogy of how writing is like a motorcycle, but after doing my research—a very important aspect of good writing—I’ve learned it’s more complicated then just kicking the engine. Actually, if you’re literally kicking the engine, you might damage the motorcycle and/or your foot.) But back to writing, something I know a little about… Every writer is unique, but here are a few things I do when I want inspiration for a new book: My local café – I can’t work in quiet solitude for long or I fall asleep. So I go to a coffee house, get a pastry and coffee, and sit in a corner with my computer. Alternate news sources – Whether or not the stories are true, they’re chopped full of strange ideas—the flat earth theory, sentient insects, black goo, Planet X. Even if you don’t write sci-fi, these headlines might stretch your brain enough to find the perfect idea for your new novel. Staring into space – Once I have an idea, I have to look away from my computer. I keep my fingers posed over my keyboard and type my thoughts. It might be days or weeks later, but I eventually get an idea I want to expand upon. Whether or not you do what I do, the point is to keep thinking and writing. You can scribble notes on a napkin or draw in a journal or make an outline on your... read more