Got Inspiration?

So, today, the Level Best Authors promotion group I’m a part of had their first joint post on a host blog. The question we all answered was ‘where do you get your inspiration and idea for the story?’ The short answer is, all over the place!

99.9% of the time, my inspiration comes from someone who has related an experience so engaging and intriguing that it has to have a place somewhere in my book. Or in the case of my latest book, a conversation with a stranger led to the entire story! Read about it here. We are so often afraid of approaching others, or taking deep dives in conversation with people we don’t know very well, aren’t we? Perhaps even more so now that the masking has occurred. I’m hoping hugs and deep-seated conversations will resume once we return to an unmasked society, but in the meantime it’s a bit harder to ferret out inspiration as an author, because gatherings have become distanced. Both physically and emotionally.

People are so interesting, and have so many stories. And in the current climate in America, I would assume there’s a lot of loneliness and longing for connection. Even though it feels alien and awkward, I appreciate the technology that allows us to stay in touch or have events and meetings in spite of the distancing required in person. I now have roughly three ZOOM events or calls a week, and more on the horizon. I’m pretty comfortable with the technology now, but I’m wondering if this is a precursor of what our society as a whole is embracing in the future? It is a scary prospect to me.

Give me a good, lively conversation with someone new and I’ll leave with four or five ideas for characters or stories or scenes. But sadly, our deep conversations are muted at present, and we must slog through this ‘new normal’ with resolve and hope. Americans are not ones to live their lives behind masks, and I trust that, like most viruses, this one will recede and we can tiptoe back to those interesting conversations and friendly smiles. In person.

To read our joint posts about idea inspiration for authors on ‘The Wickeds’ blog, click here.

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Pre-order my latest book, The Deadening, here. Available on Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop, B&N.com

Olivia Callahan’s quiet, orderly life is shattered when she regains consciousness in a hospital and discovers she is paralyzed and cannot remember a thing. The fragmented voices she hears around her help her piece together that an apparent assault landed her in the hospital, but nobody knows who attacked her, or why. After a chilling struggle to survive, she awakens from a coma unable to remember what happened to her or anything at all, except she has been told she is an entirely different person. Or is she?
         Now, in spite of a brain injury that has rewired her personality, Olivia is on a mission to reclaim her life. As clarity surfaces and she starts to understand who she was, she is shocked. Had she really been that person? And if so, does she want her old life back?

Boom! It’s 2021 and Crazy Town

HI there and welcome to Crazy Town. At least that’s where I am right now. So busy I don’t have much time to bemoan our political landscape or wring my hands about the COVID virus, and thank God because if that was all I thought about I’d be in bed most days.

I’m in the midst of releasing a book with an energetic and forward-thinking publisher and it’s a LOT! Since my background is advertising sales, copywriting, and marketing, I have to do it to the utmost, which takes a lot of time and patience. Neither of which I have, but we do what must be done, don’t we? Yes. Most of the time, anyway.

So while whittling away at a press release, preparing for yet another ZOOM call with my author launch team, biting my fingernails calling potential virtual event venues for our “Truth and Lies in Mysteries” tour, I had a moment of panic when I realized I hadn’t updated my website and a lot of folks (a lot) were going to check it out now and I’d better have something current. It’s even on my publisher’s information sheet, ‘how many times do you update your website a month?’ and I got a little red-faced at that question. So…welcome to my world for the next few weeks, and in the middle of that, my publisher offered me another contract! For Book Two and Book Three of the Olivia Callahan Suspense Series. Book One of which (The Deadening) releases next month, and is available for pre-order now.

My mind is spinning with how much there is to do after a mainly puttering-along writing life, and it is now full systems go and I have two more books to write starting, well, now. It is a happy time and a busy time and I am over-the-moon grateful for a blessing in the midst of a fiercely alienating landscape, a horrid disease, and the pervasive loneliness that hatched in 2020. Thanks to my writing addiction, I now have an instant group of encouragers and ZOOM meetings at every turn.

Into the vast Unknown…

Tip-toeing into 2021, I’m cautiously optimistic that we may see some light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s certainly nice to have a bunch of activity going on. It is WAY too easy to slide down the tunnel of regret and take the highway of discontent right now. (Dumb metaphors, I know, I know). So for now, I’m happily engaging in phone calls to potential virtual events or future signing events when the great unmasking occurs (being positive, here), I’m delighting in the lively wit of other authors and the sharing of promotional ideas. I’m excited about the fact that my editor believes in and supports my books and that I’m building a fan base (I love you guys).

Not watching news. Just no. For a while.

I’m stepping away from 24/7 news, which has had me glued to my phone. If 2020 has taught us one thing, it’s that we cannot believe the media. We must do research and find out for ourselves, and even that may not be exactly right, so…we just need to live our lives. Pursue that wonderful thing that God made us to do. Believe that better, more hopeful days are ahead. (Preachin’ to myself here, too.) Stay busy. Find something we love and do it. Persevere. Stay ahead of depression. Go visit someone with a three-year old, it will totally change your outlook for the better. Promise.

In the meantime, I think I’ll keep writing.

Happy New Year, everyone!

‘Tis the Season

The marsh grass is the color of wheat, now.

Little did I know, that when we bought this house, the lowcountry marsh behind it would change color with the seasons. I have a desk pointed in that direction, so I can study the panorama and think deep thoughts as I write. Or think nothing, which seems to be my default position these days.

My creativity has leeched away temporarily. There’s a lot on my mind, but this week, the week of Christmas, I’m pushing it all away. I’m choosing to focus on the holiday. All is calm, all is bright, joy to the world, amen.

The holidays are never calm in my house, since there are multiple adult kids and families to consider, so it’s a choice to remain calm. My mind goes back through the years. I think the only ‘Silent Night’ Christmas I remember was the Christmas I’d just gotten divorced and the absence of stress and relationship struggles made all the difference. I still remember that time fondly, sounds strange, I know, but a horrible marriage does not a calm and silent Christmas make. But the peace…it felt incredible.

Lately, I’ve been fighting for peace and sanity amidst the pandemic and the voices that fan terror and strife from the media, which I no longer trust to tell the truth. Fighting for sanity amidst the changing landscape of shopping and planning events and interacting in general as a society. I think we can all agree, it’s been a tough year, and we’ve been infected with more than a virus. Tensions are at an all-time high, and it’s harder than ever to choose ‘calm’ or ‘peaceful’ or ‘optimistic’ but we must. I can either give in to fear or choose faith. I can let my feelings overtake me, and drown in depression; or choose hope. I can become angry and tense when things don’t go my way, or I can let go and choose love. Love is the highest road, the best road. Always. Even when we disagree, we can do it patiently. Kindly.

So…I’ve determined to love even when I have to grit my teeth. I’m choosing to remain silent when I want to blow up at someone. (Not always successful here, but I’m definitely trying.) I’m choosing to focus on the birth of Christ and God’s incredible gift to humanity. I’m excited about seeing the ‘Bethlehem Star’, which happened with a spontaneous gathering of neighbors, complete with binoculars and telescope. A magical moment, and a time for quiet speculation. Hope in the midst of the storm. Light in the darkness. Reassurance that as a country, we will move on, we will learn from 2020 – the year of radical unmet expectations – and our country will not give in to despair and contention. I’m letting petty differences and the fear I’ve picked gifts that my loved ones won’t like slide away. I’m determined to ignore a messy kitchen and an even messier life…for now. I’ll pick this stuff up again next week, but I want a timeout. I’m forcing a timeout. At least mentally.

My zillion gifts I bought for kids and grandkids and husband have been Amazoned (this should be a verb now, right?) to their destinations, and the rest wait patiently under my tree for the parts of my family that will be here. I have an entire week on my calendar that has nothing on it except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. My cats have not ripped up the gifts and the tree, for once, so that is something to celebrate! A small thing, but still. Notable.

Like the marsh grass in winter, my outlook lies dormant and devoid of color. 2020 has been a long, rough season. But like all seasons, it hasn’t come to stay. It will pass.

Though we may not feel it or see it right now, we are passing through. Spring is on the way!