Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Idea Spark

I’m standing in the check-out line at the grocery, playing a little game. Maybe some of you have played it too. In front of me, there’s this guy–tall, dark hair, kind of muscular. Nice firm…umm, well you get the picture.

He’s working those biceps, lifting laundry detergent and milk jugs from the cart. Everything about him is laid open for all to see on the conveyor belt. Lots of pre-packaged meals and peanut butter, a loaf of multi-grain bread, sleeping tablets, manly deodorant, razor blades, and a bottle of wine–domestic white. Toilet paper, duct tape, soap, and a case of bottled water.

Sean, (I went ahead and named him) pushes the cart through and pulls out a wad of crumpled bills and a ton of change from the pockets of his low-cut jeans.

He has just enough for the bagged items. Almost to the penny. He pushes the cart one-handed, through the automatic doors and out of sight.

Based on his purchases I can surmise quite a bit about Sean. He’s single, has bills the paycheck never stretches far enough to cover, has trouble sleeping because of the money troubles, can’t cook, likes to eat and drink healthy, but doesn’t have the time for it since he’s always on the go, works out and cleans up nice after. Keeps a bottle of wine around for his girlfriend or a potential girlfriend.

But would I be right? Would the jumble of items paint a different picture if I placed a few of them in a different order?

Let’s see…white wine, sleeping tablets, duct tape, razor blades. Sounds a bit more sinister now, doesn’t it? Is Sean hero or villain?

The cash came directly from his pocket, not out of a wallet. No bulge in those jeans–well, at least not in the back. (LOL!) So no wallet. Maybe no driver’s license or identification–he’s paying cash, so he doesn’t need it anyway. Is he driving without a license? Or did he walk. He must live close.

What about those seemingly harmless items he bought? Placed together, they form an odd window into his world and into the world of a writer.

Imagination. This is where it starts. We see something and make comparisons and attachments, sometimes leaping over mountains of logic. We choose the solutions that seem to fit best, based on our own perceptions.

For writers, this means we’ve seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched something that triggered a connection–integrated the intangible with the possible. The result is a concept or premise for a story.
I’ve played the game all my life. It can be applied to a person, place or thing. The spark for inspiration needs only a little fuel. Curiosity and excitement will fan the rest.

The spark for my novella, Cup of Fate, started with a photo and a request for help. A member in one of my personal interest groups wanted to find out the meanings of the symbols painted inside an old heirloom teacup.

On further inspection, I realized she had a vintage fortune telling teacup. Some of the symbols were clear enough. The significance behind the baby carriage and wedding ring were self evident–but what of the other strange markings?

As I tried to decipher the cup, I began to play the “what if” game. An entire scenario popped into my head. What if…a woman, new to the area, went yard sale shopping and found this teacup. What if the old woman who sold it to her offered to read her fortune.

Sounds like fun, right?

Ah…but what if the tea cup didn’t foretell the future, but instead sent the poor soul who drank from the cup to an alternate reality, her destination all based on obscure drawings inside the cup–and exactly where those loose tea leaves chose to rest?

Keeping a creative journal organizes all the what ifs and other observations you make each day into a format you can return to again and again–your own hidden stash of gold nuggets. Writer’s block doesn’t stand a chance against such a valuable ally.

Dreams can also be a potent spark to imagination. H.P. Lovecraft suffered from terrible nightmares. Someone suggested he write them down in a journal. This enabled him to have at least some sense of control over the dreams. Better still, it allowed Lovecraft to write stories that have entertained millions of readers and inspired many of today’s top paranormal and horror authors.

Whether terrifying, highly erotic, or laugh-out-loud funny, all dreams can be used to spark the creative juices.

If you have a blog, think back to some of the more memorable events you wrote about. See if there is a theme. Who knows, you just might have enough there to create your own nugget of a story idea.

Once you know how to look, you’ll find the place where your story starts. Even if it’s in the check-out lane of a grocery store.

Clean up on aisles two and three.

Now, I wonder what that’s about?

This article was previously posted at the late Midnight Moon Cafe blog in 2007. I've reposted it here since it was one of the most popular articles I wrote for beginning writers.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Writing The Journey

I’ve heard it said that writing is a journey, but what does that mean exactly? Does that mean you might as well prepare for an arduous, uphill trip? Or maybe they simply mean writing is like a marathon race, a long, slow road, with stops along the way to grab a cup of water?

So far, my own journey is more like a surprise, a box you open, and inside isn’t a prize, but another box, and you open it, to find yet another box.  And another, all of them increasingly smaller and smaller, until the very last box is so small your fingers and thumb dwarf the teeny box.

But you open it anyway, because Pandora lives in each of us, that need to know what is on the inside. And inside the box is a seed, a kernel, perhaps even a bit of stardust. But just enough to keep us going, to keep writing,  keep trying.

Have you opened your boxes yet?  And when you came to the very last one, what did you find?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A New Review for Open Season

Very excited to share the news! I recently got notification that my dragon shapeshifter erotic romance, Open Season, was reviewed by BDSM BookReviews, and got 4.5 out of 5 paddles!

I am totally stoked! Read the review.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Are You An Aspiring Writer?

Romance Junkies 2012 Writing Contest

Taking the plunge into Indie Publishing contest!

Would you like to publish one of your manuscripts on Kindle, Barnes and Noble? This contest will give the winner the tools they need to make a successful launch. The winner will receive all of the services necessary to publish and promote their book.

So pull out that book from your backlist that is no longer available for sale, that manuscript you have under the bed, or your new release that doesn't seem to fit with your normal publisher, and put that puppy up yourself!

If you are already an Indie Pub author, use this contest to launch your next title.
At the end of the contest, we will be adding the Authors writing name and any links to buy the books. So even if you don't win readers will still be able to find your book when you put it out.

Contest Schedule
July 1st– September 1st-- Take in Entries
Change - September 1st– thru November 14th– Post entries
(every week a group of entries are posted on the contest page to be voted on by readers)
November 30th– Winners Announced

Cat Brown AKA Chaoscat
(Chaos - It's not just a lifestyle, it's a state of mind)
Owner/Operator Romance Junkies
Follow us on Twitter: @RJBookReviews

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pen Lover

I love silly and whimsical pens. Anything odd, unique, or colorful attracts my eye. The problem has always been finding ink refills for them.

pensI usually have to take them with me when I need to check for replacements and it can lead to some interesting conversations. LOL.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite pens…

From top to bottom: Spell broom pen made by my etsy friend Storm Eldermoon, Newport Aquarium pen that writes in red, green, black and blue for all my colorful moods, racehorse pen I got at the Kentucky Derby gift shop a couple of years ago. I use that one when I pick winners out of the Daily Racing Form…lol, Watermelon colored cat scratch pencil…okay not officially a pen, but still, I love it. :) And finally, my black and gold Bast hieroglyphics pen bought a few years back during a vacation trip to Florida.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Past Lives

I know that many people don’t believe in past lives and that is okay. You’ll probably say the same thing the next time. :D

But I’ve always believed in life as a journey and a lesson for the soul. I can only hope I’m not flunking out this time around. :P

Seriously though, it would explain a lot of things. Like why some people feel frightened of water yet never had a bad experience (as far as they know), or why some people can’t drive over bridges. Saw that one day while channel surfing on the telly.

Maybe this would explain why child prodigies exist. I mean, if you spent your entire lifetime as Ludwig van Beethoven, then your next incarnation was 350 years later, wouldn’t that prior lifetime’s abilities shine forth as a young child while still fresh, so-to-speak, in your subconscious?

Three year olds painting masterpieces as if they were Picasso or Marc Chagall?

Take that next step and think…

It could also explain why some children seem to have a talent for languages, speaking as many as four or five different languages as early as toddler age!

I can barely handle English some days–and it’s my native tongue! LOL

To extrapolate this concept further…what if you’d always been born female in your past incarnations, and then suddenly, in this lifetime, you are born male. Wouldn’t you grow up with all these feelings that you were born into the wrong gender? And what of the sexual desires?

Would a past life always mean being the same race each time? I hope not. I mean, how boring would that be?

Maybe next time I’ll get to have beautiful dark skin or gorgeous natural blond hair, or maybe I’ll speak a beautiful, lyrical language like Italian and it will be my native tongue.

Oh and friends! Yes, what of the feeling that comes over you when you first meet someone. Have you ever felt a strong sensation that you’ve known this person before. Had that instant “click” or understanding that goes beyond mere coincidence? Could it be that we subconsciously draw our friends and family back to us each and every lifetime? Perhaps this time your husband from a previous life is now your best girlfriend or even your mother!

It sure is something to ponder.

And if it is so…do we get to choose?

Do you believe in reincarnation? Do you think that we stay the same race/gender/ethnicity through each incarnation?

Do you believe that the people closest to you now have always been around you in some fashion?
That you find each other time after time, drawn to each other as if by magnets?

Or do you think the whole past lives thing is hogwash?

Would you be interested in reading about a hero or heroine who is discovering their past lives?

Let me know what you’re thinking. :)

In the meanwhile, take this fun quiz about your own past life! Who knows, you might find out something cool about yourself you never knew!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tricksey Widdle

I am one of those people who need to trick myself into doing things. Take for instance the alarm clock. When I have a scheduled appointment I can’t miss and dare not be late, I set the time forward maybe twenty minutes, so I “think” I am actually 20 minutes late—giving myself a 20 minute cushion! Oh yes, I go through all sorts of machinations to make sure I never run late or bounce a check. :-P

It helps to do this in advance, so you give yourself enough time to forget you’ve done it before the day of the appointment, thus ensuring the brain self-manipulation works. lol.

So, hands in the air, ya'll. Do you do that, too? Or someone you know?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Naughty Little Words

Sometimes inspiration for a story comes from something you see or hear…all it takes are a few naughty little words… ;-)

In the case of Naughty Little Secrets, the story developed when a friend of mine told me about how she is tired of reading romances where the guys are all billionaires or millionaires. She said those stories are nothing more than imitation Cinderellas.

We agreed there need to be more blue collar heroes. So she told me about this guy she saw a few years ago, when her car broke down and she had to call a tow truck. The guy took her to this garage he recommended since she was clueless where to take her car.

Anyway, turns out that the owner of the repair shop and the tow truck guy were related, I think she said they were cousins. The tow truck guy wasn’t bad looking, but he wasn’t great looking either, but more importantly, my friend isn’t into married men and this guy wore a band.

But the guy who owned the repair shop was hot she told me, and not wearing a ring…and she spent the next three hours fantasizing about this guy and trying to find out—subtly—if he was married or single. lol. I can just picture her there trying to ask all these guys, elbows deep in car parts and grease, if the dude she wanted was available. :P lol.

And she said, “I only wanted to know if he was fuckable.” Of course, I cracked up at this point. Oh yeah, I picture it too well.

But her encounter planted a seed in my head, and I started outlining a story with a handsome car repair guy as hero.

What do you think? Do you prefer more authentic and real down to earth guys with blue collar occupations, or maybe you like to mix it up and read both white and blue collar heroes?

Until Next time~

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tattoo Dreams

I've managed to hold out for quite some time on getting my first tattoo, mainly because 1.  I hate needles 2. I've never truly found the right artwork I could live with permanently on my body, and 3. I'd need to find just the right artist who could do the art exceptionally well.

Having said that, I'm thinking of test driving a piece of artwork I saw online (once I can track down the artist and get permission to use it (if they will let me), and having a temporary tattoo made first, before I let the needles fly. Whew. This is a major step for me, well if I can go through with it and not chicken out. But when I saw the art, my heart and soul kinda came together and wow. Just, wow.

Update: The artist was unwilling to give permission for the tattoo, so I am back at square one trying to see if anything else inspires me. Ah well...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mermaid Jokes

I love a good joke, and I may be one of the few people around who actually laughs at puns. If you're a reader of this blog or you've read any of my Shifting Tides books, then you also know I am a tad goofy about anything to do with mermaids, dolphins, selkies, and the ocean. Combine the two and you've got my attention. :D

When I heard a bartending pirate telling mermaid jokes under the sea, I had to listen up. After all, I am a part-time virtual mermaid. lol  Watch the fourth joke on the list. If you can answer it correctly, leave a comment and the first person who gets it right, wins an ebook from my backlist, winner's choice.

Which fish can perform operations?

A Sturgeon!

Why are fish such intelligent creatures?

Because they swim in schools!

Why did the whale cross the road?

To get to the other tide!

And last but not least:

How could the dolphin afford to buy a house?

If you're the first to know the correct answer, you WIN! Good Luck!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Creaky Bones

Not sure if anyone still reads blogs, or if everyone on the planet lives over on FaceBook lane, but figured I might as well post an update on things, if for no other reason than as a future nostalgic reminder of my life in 2012, for me, myself, and I.

This month has been good, bad, and ugly. Some folks say a body is like a house, what goes into it reflects the effort and care you put into it. My house (figuratively and literally) is kinda falling apart. Every day seems like a new thing needs fixing. Last month it was the main bathroom's plumbing and toilet. This month it was the central air unit and furnace, plus the dryer and the refrigerator (repairman expected sometime this afternoon, please let it be within the budget!)

My house is showing it's creaky bones, and so am I. Middle age was bad enough (sarcoidosis, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, degenerative disc disease, etc), but the slide these past few years into true cronehood has been a disturbing wake-up call. Yikes! I woke up yesterday morning and my elbow made a weird little creaking noise and pain started radiating all along my upper arm. All I did was reach for my toothbrush and suddenly I now have tennis elbow. Yep, I said tennis elbow.  Had I swung a racket at Venus or Serena Williams, I could understand. But lifting a toothbrush? Holy crap, this sucks.

Oh, I can almost hear my late mum chortling, saying "I tried to tell you girls."

And then I made the mistake of bending to pick up wet towels off the floor (the central air unit was leaking and my dh decided to lay towels around it—my good towels, no less!) In the old days (like four or five years ago) I'd have to sneeze while twisting to get that kind of reaction from my body. I think I may have yipped!

I watched Dr. Oz the other day (a rerun) and he said that Omega 3 fatty acids, like the oils found in salmon, are also good for joints and bones. So last night I fixed grilled salmon steaks with lemon and cilantro, risotto, and cottage cheese with sliced tomato on a bed of lettuce. Very healthy stuff.

There is also some great stuff I got at Kroger's grocery that you pour into cold water and shake, and it's called Active Lifestyle Drink Mix - Joint Support - Tropical Punch. It actually tastes pretty good and imo, is better tasting than Gatorade.

So if you're like me and feeling like your figurative house is falling apart, help your body by giving it what it needs, and I'm not talking about chocolate pudding cake, lol.

Until next time,