Watching for Inspiration

Sometimes you have to just push the chair back and walk away from the desktop.You can only stare at a screen for so long before your mind goes numb and you’re searching for inspiration.

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Some of the best inspiration that you can get is from watching the people around you. This is especially true at large public locations. I’m lucky to live in South Florida; between the place where the mouse lives and the place where the dolphins swim there’s plenty of attractions to go and watch people. I don’t know what it is about people who are on vacation, but it seems like they’ll do the most amazing things. It might be because they’re letting their inhibitions down, as ifthey have an “I don’t care” attitude. Or maybe it’s because they think no one’s watching: at least no one they know. Young or old, male or female, there’s plenty of inspiration to watch for.

 

I especially like to watch the interaction between people;  what they’re doing while they’re talking. There are so many hand gestures and movements a person makes without even being aware of it and if you incorporate those into your story line you can add a lot of interest.

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Here’s a perfect example…

We were at the place where the mermaids put on a show in the springs  by Tampa. Two little girls very close in age were excited to be able to see the show with the mermaids. They jumped up and down and chattered non-stop. Their parents kept exchanging looks as they tried to quiet them down. Finally it was time for all of us to go in and sit down in the auditorium to watch the mermaid show. The two little girls were overjoyed with excitement and chattered loudly.Their mother tried to quiet them down but to no avail. Rather than getting in the middle of an argument with them, their father simply took each   girl by  hand and led them to their seats.  Instead of letting them sit together, he conveniently put himself and his wife between the two of them. They weren’t able to feed off the excitement of each other and they settled down to enjoy the show.

In that same auditorium over in the corner there were three little girls in the front row leaning over the railing. They were so excited to see the mermaids that they were pushing their noses up against the glass. Instead of being loud and rambunctious like the other girls, these three little girls were in awe of the mermaids. They whispered back and forth to each other and when one of the mermaids swam over and waved at them they were so excited they just didn’t know what to say.  As the mermaid swam away, the giggling and the whispering started. Yet, it was a smile on the adults around the three girls that told the true story. We were getting more enjoyment out of the children’s joy then out of the show itself.

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Children of all ages are great to watch, because they held nothing back. Watching an adult is a little bit harder; you have to really pay attention, without appearing to stare at the interaction between them. It can be something as obvious as to couples fighting with raised hands and loud voices, to another couple so comfortable with themselves that words are needed. They let  their emotions show through actions;   the older man holds the woman’s hand to help her over a rough patch in the sidewalk. To me that action was louder than the arguments of the other couple.

So, when you feel like you’re stumped, or that you need a break, get out of the house and see what’s going on around you. If you can’t do that, flip on the TV and watch the interactions of the characters on the show. Be sure to pay closer attention to the side characters instead of the main characters. Sometimes what you see going on in the background is funnier than the comic one-liners the main characters have.

Feeling inspired? Good, now get back in that chair and start writing!

 

 

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AnOther Writer?

I think I have a budding writer in the family.

She’s not your typical writer. No, her work habits are lazy and hap-hazard. She tends to write only when inspired by seeing someone else working, and she  often falls asleep in the middle of a sentence.

You see my co-writer is a pretty little thing, with four legs and a lot of attitude.20160902_080826

Meet Miss Marple. She’s the quiet one of my three cats.and if I’m at my desk, so is she. To tell the truth, she should have been named Shadow, because she is like my shadow, always with me.

Miss Marple is patient and seems to know my writing moods. When things are flowing smoothly, she sits in her basket (how she still fits in it I haven’t a clue) and grabs a nap. When I need to sit and think about the story, she will sit on my lap, hands or keyboard and offer her support.

Of course things don’t always go this smoothly, after all, she’s a cat with a mind of her own. And one of three in the house. I swear, when she thinks I’ve ignored her long enough, she signals the other two for reinforcements!

The second cat is Fletch.  She was named Mrs. Fletcher, but my son insisted Fletch was more appropriate-he was right. If there is trouble to be found, Fletch is in the middle of it. And she is not so tolerant of being ignored while I write.

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When the reinforcements are called in, my desk becomes their play ground. Drawers are opened for stealing paperclips and rubber bands. The pen in my hand is  mortal enemy that must be attacked and defeated. Urgent secret codes are typed into my manuscript as they pounce on the key board. And the back of my chair is commandeered and transformed into a launch pad.

Then, just as I’m ready to give up and pack it in, there is peace. As if sent by a secret code, they both settle down.

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Did I mention my third cat, Speckles? She is the matriarch of the three, over 18 years old. She’s too old to jump up on my desk, now. Instead she sits in the comfortable chair next to my desk, or on a rug in a patch of sunlight and watches the antics of the other two. In her time, she was the troublemaker. I think I can see her smile as Fletch steals my pen.

I wonder…is she sending them a secret code?

Finally, all three are taking their afternoon nap and I can get back to my work in progress. At least until they wake up and it starts all over.

Music for the Moods

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The music we listen to The music we listen to can define who you are; it can tell others all about your personality without your even uttering a word. You might be somebody who loves oldies, or you could be the other extreme and hard rock it your thing. Maybe a bit of jazz set your mood, or maybe some hip-hop will get you to dance. Of course, a lot of will depends upon your age, background and your upbringing, but ultimately each one of us will pick her own style of music that we live by. This will define our character, for each one of us will pick our own music that we listen and live by. But have you ever noticed how the music you listen to can also define your mood or the environment around you. On a cold day it’s overcast and dreary, you might find yourself listening to some classical or jazz music while you sit in front of a warm fire. On a sunny day, while we are heading to the beach the musical will be upbeat and have your feet tapping along with it. If it is sad mood you find yourself in, then you might be listening to something a bit more dark and dreary .Happy mood? You might have the tunes set to song choices that make you smile and sing along. For that more serious mood, you might be listening to classical or nature sounds.

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I find that as a writer that the type of music I was listen to while I’m writing will depend upon vastly the part of the story that I’m writing. If I’m laying groundwork or outline of a new book, for instance, I’m going to be listening to something that just easy-going; often for me that would be sounds of nature set to beautiful instrumental music in the background. However, if I’m working diligently on a critical part of the story I’m going to have more dramatic music in the background; typically I listen to strong instrumentals for that part of the story. If I’m writing a more emotional piece then I’m probably going to be listening to Jazz. Writing about a tropical beach scene I probably have some Jimmy Buffett or Beach Boys playing. And when I finish the book is celebratory music all the way something loud and happy, and maybe just a little crazy (for me). Some old hard rock to just let loose works perfectly for these times. But my mood when I’m writing changes from chapter to chapter, so my iPod is fully loaded with a wide variety to provide me with just the right music for the mood at that moment. So what about you? You may not be a writer, but I bet we can listen to your music selection at almost any time and find out what kind of mood you might be in.

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Think about it… what are you playing right now?

The Next Block-Buster?

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A question was recently raised on one of the writing forums that I read and it caught my attention. The question was; if your book were to be made into a movie, what would it be rated? This is a legitimate question; with today’s technology, there so many other things we do in our daily life that could apply to this question, so why not books too. We lounge around, interacting with technology rather than just reading. And let’s be honest; every writer would love to see their book made into a movie!  Can you picture the name of your book up there on the theater marquee?
So, I was thinking let’s go one step further and ask: who would you have star in a movie based on your book? Who would be that perfect actor/actress to play your lead? Would it be somebody known well-known, somebody from recent movie hits? Or would you pick an old favorite like Audrey Hepburn or Betty Davis? And (sometimes even more importantly) who would play your villain?  Will it be a dark and evil  type like Vincent Price?  Or maybe your villain will take everyone by surprise and be someone clean-cut and unexpected like Neal Patrick Harris?

 

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And then there’s all the minor roles; do you get well-known stars or do you look for new talent? Whatever you do the supporting roles can be just as important as your lead and as a writer you know how you’ve developed those rules down to the minute detail. You’ve taken the time to bring your reader into your mind and create details that will stick with them, from the very first page to the end. These details will describe the story, characters, settings and the emotions of your book. How will that portray on the big screen are; are you now setting yourself up to become screenwriters stead of a novelist? These are all things that you need to think about if you ever really want to fulfill that dream of seeing your book being made into a movie.

 

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Me? I think I’m going to stick to my laptop and creating a mental escape for my readers with written words. I’ll let somebody else worry about writing a screenplay for my books!

It All Happened When…

Summer time down here is Florida is a time to regroup and plan for the upcoming season with gusto.  Since it is often slow business wise, it is also a good time for reflection. 

It was during a morning business networking group that I found myself faced with a challenge of my own.  We were all reveling a secret longing that each of us had always wanted to pursue.  When it was my turn, I found myself blurting out the words “write a mystery and see it published”.  Well, the person most surprised by this revelation was non-other than ME!! 

Oh, I knew I had always loved to read, and when I was in college enjoyed creative writing, but then life happened at that all got swept into the back drawer of my desk as I made room for a business and family.

And the years passed.

Now my son is getting ready to head off to college himself and I have just proclaimed to my friends and associates that I wanted to write a book.  Well, what was I to do?  Those words were not just a longing, but a dare to myself-a double dog dare.  I could just pretend that it was just a passing fancy, a whim OR I could do something about it.

And so I began to write. 

And once the words started to form sentences, then pages grew into chapters and by the beginning of fall, I had completed my first book!  Now I’m hooked.  I have started the second book in the mystery series and have the outlines for about ten more books in the same series.  Plus, I have the idea for another series in a whole other style and genre.

It hasn’t been as easy as it sounds (I’m horrible at spelling and my first book needed a lot of editing) and I still have a business to run and a family to take care of.  But, you know, I think I like this new direction my life is going in.