So You Want To Be A Writer: Harvesting Inspiration

So You Want To Be A Writer, Weekly Features, Weekly Novel Writing Inspiration

I usually post a photography feature for novel writing inspiration, and I would like to share my thoughts on how inspiration in the form of a snapshot can become a window into something spectacular.

todays pick ... hot off the bench ... upscaled vintage bottles

There are countless ways to bottle inspiration. Reading a Jane Austen book, going for a walk along the Seine, watching an Italian film, or a whirlwind romance with a handsome stranger you met in Trafalgar Square. I’m asked quite often, “Where does inspiration come from?”

My answer, “I harvest it.”

Surrounded for Illuminations

That usually stumps the inquirer.

eloise

Many writers are faced with this question daily. Where does inspiration come from?

Lion

Can you buy it in a store, like bread and eggs? Is it a commodity to invest in? Or is it simply a far away muse that can only be tapped into if the diva allows it?

Umbrella

Inspiration for writers, both young and old, is not tangible. It is different for each person. We experience the world through a pair of eyes, and a pair of hands. Photography has provided a glorious window for a moment in time to be captured, and many authors will say a certain photo grabbed them so intensely that they wrote an entire book trying to explain it all.

The flea

Lois Lowry, who is most famous for writing “The Giver” was inspired by bunch of unwanted photos in an antique store, that she purchased them all and wrote a book surrounded the exact photos she’d found. That book became “The Silent Boy.” And although inspiration, like love, can’t be bought, but it can be found in the strangest of places.

Estudio Domus

Where would J.K. Rowling be if she hadn’t ridden on that train and found the nucleus of the Harry Potter series dropped into her lap?

It all ends.

Where would Stephenie Meyer be without the dream about an ordinary human girl falling in love with a vampire?

Haha

Where would most of the publishing world be without these tiny sparks of inspiration?

Fairy Tales

Photography allows me to “harvest” inspiration in the forms of little scenes, captured in time. One day, it may be the right time, the right moment, when a pretty picture could spark the beginnings of a book idea.

Lady Bannon of Berwick

Harvest your inspiration like you harvest love.

Sow the seeds and search out your inspiration in the beautiful world out there, and you’ll reap inspiration in the most unlikely places.

:)

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Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Book Reviews

The Raven Boys

by Maggie Stiefvater

Library Copy

(****)

cover, young adult, series, fantasy books

Blue Sargent, the daughter of the town psychic in Henrietta, Virginia, has been told for as long as she can remember that if she ever kisses her true love, he will die. But she is too practical to believe in things like true love. Her policy is to stay away from the rich boys at the prestigious Aglionby Academy. The boys there — known as Raven Boys — can only mean trouble.

—Synopsis courtesy of the author’s website.

The Raven Boys, like every other Maggie Stiefvater novel, was highly anticipated by librarians, readers, and booksellers alike. I knew next to nothing about it, but requested it at my library nonetheless. I hadn’t liked her last book, The Scorpio Races, very much even though the premise was wonderful. With The Raven Boys I enjoyed it far better, as the pace wasn’t muddled and the plot lines were much clearer.

As with all of Maggie Stiefvater’s writings, again with this one I felt “something” was missing from the prose. I have yet to pin down exactly what that “something” is, but I had noticed that it was missing when I read the Shiver series, and again with the Scorpio Races. The closest that I could possibly say that “something” would be is a fullness of character, and character settings. Like there are only four or five characters in the entire world throughout each book, and no other life exists outside of this little world inside the book. Where in their world there are no grocers or bankers, or families or other friends in school, or secondary characters that might add a fuller sense of place.

The one book of hers that I noticed had a bit more fullness than the others was Linger, and mainly that had to do with Cole St. Clair’s storyline adding to the Grace and Sam storyline.

The premise of The Raven Boys was unique, and not something you usually see in today’s Young Adult Fiction market. With that being said, I cannot wait for my copy of The Dream Thieves, the second book in the Raven Cycle.

Review: Phantom by Laura DeLuca

Book Reviews, Writer Wednesday

Phantom

Laura DeLuca

Advance Review Copy

Grade: *

Grading Scale: 1 (*) – 5 Stars (*****)

The “Phantom” was a musical phenomenon that Rebecca had always found enchanting. She had no idea that her life was about to mirror the play that was her obsession. When her high school drama club chooses “Phantom” as their annual production, Rebecca finds herself in the middle of an unlikely love triangle and the target of a sadistic stalker who uses the lines from the play as their calling card.
 
Rebecca lands the lead role of Christine, the opera diva, and like her character, she is torn between her two co-stars—Tom the surfer and basketball star who plays the lovable hero, and Justyn, the strangely appealing Goth who is more than realistic in the role of the tortured artist.
Almost immediately after casting, strange things start to happen both on and off the stage. Curtains fall. Mirrors are shattered. People are hurt in true phantom style. They all seem like accidents until Rebecca receives notes and phone calls that hint at something more sinister. Is Justyn bringing to life the twisted character of the phantom? Or in real life are the roles of the hero and the villain reversed? Rebecca doesn’t know who to trust, but she knows she’s running out of time as she gets closer and closer to opening night. Only when the mask is stripped away, will the twenty first century phantom finally be revealed.
—Synopsis courtesy of the author’s website.

This book had a lot of potential. There was a potential for a great interpretation of the Phantom of the Opera, but the way it was carried out was a bit clumsy, and a little too reverent to the Andrew Lloyd Webber version of the story. When they referenced the musical, or were singing from the musical, none of the song lyrics were from the show at all. I’m guessing they were excerpts from the original story by Gaston Leroux, but it felt…off. I can understand from a business standpoint why an independent press might not want to take on the financial aspect of using lyrics from the copyrighted show. I felt that should have been taken into consideration when referencing the show almost exclusively in the text. Using made-up lyrics when Becca and Justyn are singing for example, Point of No Return, was something that should not have happened.

“Lord Justyn” only had one or two good lines in his dialogue, and the rest seemed pretentious and overbearing, like he knew he was trying too hard to be a Byronic-style hero. He was a brooding, stereotypical Goth high school student, who practiced Paganism and wore only black. I wanted a little bit of a variation from this stereotype, and truly wanted to like Justyn. But he was too flat and one-dimensional to be relatable, and his lifestyle as a Pagan was one-dimensional as well. Instead of showing the reader that Paganism wasn’t all black cats and pentagrams, it seemed to do the opposite in my opinion, by seeming a bit comical.

Becca, the heroine of this novel, reminded me a bit of Bella Swan from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. She had her good moments, but those didn’t outweigh the terribly cliched areas of her character.

The plot had an interesting twist near the end, and that justified some of the moments that dragged, but I really wanted to like this interpretation more than I had. I felt that the publishing company could have presented this novel in a better way and might have possibly hindered any sort of positive reception to the book by their choice of cover and cover artist in the edition I received. I had to use a black book cover over the design because it was so distracting. A reader’s first impression of a book is always the cover, and this one wouldn’t have made me pick it up off the shelf if I saw it in a library or in a bookstore.

Even if this interpretation of the Phantom of the Opera wasn’t what I expected, I think I would give this author another try anyway.

Visit Author Laura DeLuca’s Website

http://authorlauradeluca.blogspot.com/

Guest Post: Behind the Scenes with “Phantom” author Laura DeLuca on her Brand New Short Story “Jessica”

Author Interviews

Laura DeLuca, author of “Phantom”  has stopped by to bring us behind-the-scenes on her brand new short story, “Jessica.” 

******************************************************

Jessica is a little Halloween surprise my publisher arranged for my readers. Today, I thought I’d give you a behind of scenes look at how this short story came to be. I usually prefer to write full length a novel as opposed to shorts, but this one was sort of thrust upon me. I wrote this story almost two decades ago during my freshman year of college. The story was influenced by two very interesting people–Jessica Pirnik Gittle and James T . Kirk.

Jessica & Laura-Wildwood Catholic High School-1993

This is a photo of me with Jessica. She was one of my best and closest friends in high school. We did everything together. We were in the chorus, the yearbook staff, the school newsletter (I was editor, of course), the ecology club, and just about every other club that wasn’t a sport. I don’t do sports. We met when we were freshman in high school because we were seated alphabetically. Her name was Pirnik and my maiden name was Rice. Yes, it was a small school so there wasn’t anyone in between us in our homeroom. So, this is my best friend who I laughed and cried with, who always supported me in my writing and in all my crazy schemes. Yet, she never got a part in one of my books. She doesn’t even remember this, but she used to bug me about it all the time. It wasn’t until after we graduated from high school and I was in college that I finally put her name in a story. That story, of course, was Jessica.

Fall Formal at Stockton-I was 17

So this brings me to James T. Kirk. I bet you thought I meant the one from the spaceship. Well, no offense to the captain, but that’s not the James. T. Kirk I’m talking about here. I’m referring to a professor at my old college, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. I was in his creative writing class back in 1994, and one of our projects was to write a Halloween themed story that was set on the college campus.

This is me at Lake Fred-1994

At first, I wasn’t into this project at all. I like inspiration to flow naturally. I don’t like trying to force it. I remember sitting in my dorm, chewing he edge of my pen, coming up with nothing, and the deadline was the hours away. Then, feeling a homesick moment, I started to flip through an old photo album I had brought with me. I saw that picture of Jessica and me together. It reminded me that she had asked for her name to be a story. I thought it would be even better if her name was the title of that story. From that point, the idea flowed pretty flawlessly.

Nature Trail at Stockton

Bringing the campus into the story was even less challenging. It’s truly stunning, especially in the fall, and with its circling trails and lily covered ponds, it’s the perfect setting for all kinds of spooky happenings. I changed the name of the college for the story, but the scenery remains pretty much the same. Stockton is surrounded by acres of woods and there really is a beautiful lake there named Lake Fred. There isn’t really a White Lady haunting the lake, at least not that I know of. Still, I if I were a guy, I wouldn’t want to be wondering around Lake Fred all alone on Halloween night…

So that’s the story behind the story.

If you want to grab a copy of this short paranormal thriller for yourself, it’s available exclusively on Amazon in e-book format for only $0.99.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009RBJYL4

Want to know more about Laura DeLuca?

Interview with Jus Accardo, Author of “TOUCH”

Author Interviews

Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel, TOUCH and what
compelled you to write this particular story?

TOUCH is about a seventeen year old girl who lives to piss off her cold
and distant dad. She brings home a guy she meets after a party one night
in hopes of getting her dad’s attention–and it does. Just not the way she
expected.

As for what compelled me…nothing particular, really. My brain just spits
random ideas out. I was sitting on line, waiting for coffee, and got this
image of a girl being chased through the woods. She’s barefoot and the
ground dies as she runs.

What first drew you to writing paranormal romance?

I’ll read anything with a good story and compelling characters, but my
first love is paranormal. It seemed like a natural fit.

If you could cast your characters for the movie version of TOUCH who
would you pick to play Kale and Dez?

Dez would totally be Avril Lavigne and Kale… When i was writing TOUCH I
pictured him as a young Ben Barnes, but after seeing the cover, I want
that guy. Whoever he is, he’s perfection!

What is a typical day of writing like for you?

I usually sit down to work between 6 and 7 a.m. I’ll write most days until
12 and then take a break to run errands. I’m usually back in front of my
machine by 3 and I stay there till midnight at the least. On a normal day,
I average between 4 and 10 k a day give or take.

What are some of the other projects you have written?

Well, I have some early things that aren’t fit for my dogs to read, and I
have some later books–the trilogy that Denazen and Marshal Cross were
actually born from–that I’d love to revisit and rewrite. I’m also working
on the first book in a new paranormal series, but it’s too early to talk
about that yet 🙂

Are there any scenes in  that were inspired by true events?

There’s a bear scene that was inspired by real events. Other than that,
there’s none I can think of. There were a few scenes inspired by music,
though.

How do you feel about the yearly tradition of NaNoWriMo? Have you ever
participated in it and do you have any advice for those currently in the
early stages of it?

I usually do it. I’m going to try this year, but things are a little
crazy. My advice would be set yourself a schedule and stick to it. Every
word counts (There are NO small word counts!). Each one brings you closer
to your goal. So you only got 200 words today? So? Who cares? That’s 200
closer you are to 50k. Keep moving forward! And good luck!

Were there any books you read as a child that affected you directly as a
writer today?

All of S.E. Hinton’s books and Mary Stanton’s The Heavenly Horse From the
Outermost West were the big ones.

Do you have plans for a sequel to TOUCH?

Oh, hell yes 🙂 TOXIC, the second book in the series is with my editor
now. I’m planning to start book three in a few weeks.

What would you say to any potential readers out there that are interested
in reading TOUCH?

If you love a strong heroine who doesn’t need to a white knight to swoop
in and save her, and a hero that’s both sweet and innocent while being
utterly badass at the same time, TOUCH is for you 🙂

—————————————————————————————-

Author Bio:

Jus Accardo is the author of YA paranormal romance and urban fantasy
fiction. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her
husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald. Her first book,
Touch, is due out in November 2011 from Entangled Publishing. She is
represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

Touch Blurb:

“When a strange boy tumbles down a river embankment and lands at her feet,
seventeen-year-old adrenaline junkie Deznee Cross snatches the opportunity
to piss off her father by bringing the mysterious hottie with ice blue
eyes home.

Except there’s something off with Kale. He wears her shoes in the shower,
is overly fascinated with things like DVDs and vases, and acts like she’ll
turn to dust if he touches her. It’s not until Dez’s father shows up,
wielding a gun and knowing more about Kale than he should, that Dez
realizes there’s more to this boy – and her father’s “law firm” – than she
realized.

Kale has been a prisoner of Denazen Corporation – an organization devoted
to collecting “special” kids known as Sixes and using them as weapons –
his entire life. And, oh yeah, his touch? It kills. Dez and Kale team up
with a group of rogue Sixes hellbent on taking down Denazen before they’re
caught and her father discovers the biggest secret of all. A secret Dez
has spent her life keeping safe.

A secret Kale will kill to protect.”

Title: Touch by Jus Accardo
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
ePub ISBN: 978-1-937044-44-2
Print ISBN: 978-1-937044-45-9
Release Date: November 1, 2011

Buy Links:

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Touch-Denazen-Novel-Book-1/dp/1937044459/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320098205&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/touch-jus-accardo/1105812249?ean=9781937044459&itm=1&usri=touch%2bby%2bjus%2baccardo

Website: http://www.jusaccardo.com/

Blog: http://www.jusaccardo.com/category/blog/

Writer Wednesday: Novel Infidelity

Writer Wednesday

It started with Wuthering Heights. Out of the blue, an idea for a book—while I’m deep in the editing of my primary manuscript—sprang out of nowhere the following morning. It consumed every thought, and I could do absolutely nothing until that story idea was written down. For seven days I could not sleep well…I forgot to eat. I became haunted by this idea as a lover is haunted by her affair.

I had to see this idea through, no matter the consequences to my health. What followed was a twenty-three page synopsis of this story idea. Every element, down to the conversations and blocking movements of the characters were written down, something I never do.

Throughout those seven days I believed I was cheating on my marriage…to my other book.

Now, I believe that something as serious as infidelity cannot be compared to an author and her books, but it felt exactly how I imagined it would be. Every thought was consumed by this idea, something that has never happened in my entire writing career. But what did it mean? Is the manuscript I’m working on not as satisfactory as that first flush of emotion I get with an exciting idea? Possibly.

So how does one remedy the fact that a story idea this prominent is demanding to be written, when a manuscript I’ve been working on for a very long time still must be edited and polished further?

An affair?

kingdomofdust:Anonymous

Or a marriage?

Has anyone else experienced this strange phenomena, and if so, how did you deal with it? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Review: Days of Little Texas by R.A. Nelson

Book Reviews

“Days of Little Texas” by R.A. Nelson

Publication Date: September 14, 2010

Knopf Books for Children

Advance Review Copy

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (****)

Ronald Earl, aka Little Texas, almost 16, has been on the road with his Aunt Wanda Joy, elderly Sugar Tom, and Certain Certain for nigh on six years, preaching the gospel and performing healings in a long succession of small Southern towns. Lately he feels a fraud, bedeviled by recurring dreams of being  with a beautiful blond girl, naked. Sincere in his faith, he’s nevertheless beginning to doubt his work, his worthiness. Exhausted after a night’s work, he performs one last healing on a girl, Lucy, that feels different. As the days pass, he can’t stop thinking about her as she melds with the girl of his dreams. When a large, boisterous crowd in Mississippi cows him, he leaves the stage, unable to preach. Wanda Joy hatches a plan to get him back on track that will  test his faith and may, if he’s able, defeat the evil that ruined her grandfather on the same site, years before. Are the women in Ronald’s life working for good, or ill? A substantial subtext about twisted souls ensnared by slavery leads to increasingly scary and disturbing events, culminating in a showdown with evil reminiscent of M. T. Anderson’s climactic battle in Thirsty (Candlewick, 1997). Chapters are brief, the pace is rapid, and the tension is high as Ronald wrestles with demons both temporal and spiritual to find his place in the world.

Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.com

I had a few trepidations about Days of Little Texas. It didn’t get a lot of publicity when it was first published in October of 2010, and the theme of a “paranormal romance” was already a worn out subject.

 Days of Little Texas surprised me in the best way.

First, Ronald Earl, a.k.a Little Texas, had such a unique and powerful voice that I hadn’t seen in YA fiction in quite a while. He was honest, innocent, and had the purest of intentions on what he did with his ministry. He was a truly heartfelt individual and took on quite a bit of a responsibility by using his gift for spreading the Gospel.

Second, the paranormal aspect wasn’t the usual “weepy heroine falls head-over-heels in love with a ghost/zombie/vampire” etc., and the love story between Little Texas and Lucy was genuine and strong. I only wished more was said about Lucy’s past and why she was chosen to free the souls in the end.

It was an unexpected, but pleasant surprise to read Days of Little Texas and I congratulate the author on such a unique YA novel that has been overlooked for far too long.

Review: The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes

Book Reviews

The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes

Publication Date: October 4, 2010

Dial

Library Copy

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (*****)

A teenage actress falls for a mysterious stranger in this haunting romance,
reminiscent of The Phantom of the Opera. High-school senior Esti Legard and her
mother have moved to the Caribbean after the death of Esti’s father, a famous
Shakespearean actor. While playing Juliet at her prestigious performing-arts
high school, Esti starts receiving acting instruction from a disembodied voice
in the theater. Frightened that she is being courted by a jumbee, or ghost, Esti
tries to switch her attention to charming flesh-and-blood Rafe, but she
continues to be seduced by the velvety-voiced persona, which seems to read her
mind. When Esti’s real and imagined worlds collide in the climax of a tropical
hurricane, her secrets are revealed, along with those of her conflicted island
community, where descendants of slaves and slave owners alike live in an uneasy
peace. The lushly described exotic setting breathes new life into the classic
star-crossed story line. Romance fans will enjoy the fascinating locale along
with the slow-building suspense and incidental acting lessons.

—Synopsis Courtesy of Amazon.com

There is nothing that I like more than
a tropical setting. Well, and the Phantom of the Opera. When I came
across the Jumbee, I was entranced. The Caribbean and the Phantom of
the Opera—together? In the same book?!
I read it during the period of winter known as Indian Summer, a brief
respite from the bitter, bitter cold and snow. It was perfect. The color of the eyes on the cover was startling, and otherworldly. I was
hooked before I even read the first page.

Esti Legard is a likeable and relatable character, someone that finds it
hard to forgive, hard to forget, and hard not to fall in love in her
life. Her relationship with Rafe Solomon, who is modeled after Raoul,
in the original Phantom of the Opera story, was a little more
tumultuous than I remember, but his protective ways prove that he was
a strong player in the overall story arc and added a bit of a
playfulness to the book.

Alan. There is so much to say about him. It gave me chills to read the
dialogues he had with Esti regarding Shakespeare, speaking the words
of the Bard in conversation as easily as if it were breathing. Pamela
Keyes did a wonderful job with Alan’s character, and his bittersweet,
underlying tone made him the true star of this novel. The only thing
that I didn’t like was Alan’s name, as it did not seem as “right”
for him as an authentic Caribbean or English name might have been,
and having the same name as Esti’s father, regardless of his
influence over Alan, was a little bit unsettling. However, as the
book went on, it was easier to adjust.

I’m always leery about retellings of stories that I love. Phantom of the
Opera is one of them, along with Tuck Everlasting. The Jumbee did not
disappoint. Rather, it reestablished my love for the musical, the
original book by Gaston Leroux, the film and all of the interpreted
“sequels” available now.

The Jumbee is well worth the investment, which is more than I can say for
many Young Adult books on the market today. It is, by far, is one of
the best books I have read the past year, and I can’t wait to see
what Pamela Keyes has in store for us next time.

Review: Ghost Huntress—The Awakening by Marley Gibson

Uncategorized

Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.com/Publishers Weekly

Psychic Kids, Paranormal State, Haunting Evidence—these and countless other television shows are making believers out of millions of people: Ghosts exist, and they’re living right beside us. For centuries, individuals have been trying to prove the existence of ghosts. But without hard evidence, it’s been difficult to make the case. But now as science and technology have progressed, ghost hunters have been able to use scientific means, along with more traditional psychic tools, to make their case. Photographs, video recordings, and sound recordings are all producing some amazing results.
In this new series, Ghost Huntress, meet Kendall Moorehead, a seemingly typical teen. When her family moves from Chicago to the small historical town of Radisson, Georgia, her psychic abilities awaken. She’s hearing, feeling, and seeing things that seem unbelievable at first, but with the help of the town psychic, Kendall is able to come to terms with her newly emerging gift. So, together with her new BFF, Celia, Kendall forms a ghost hunting team. They’ve got all the latest technology. They’ve got Kendall for their psychic. Now they’re going to clean up Radisson of its less savory spirits.
The story is fiction. The science
is real. Welcome to a new reality.

  

When I came across the Ghost Huntress series, I was immediately intrigued by the acknowledgements section. Why would I read it just because of the acknowledgements? Unlike a lot of the books I’ve read on the paranormal, this one mentioned several of my favorite television shows like Paranormal State, Ghost Adventures, and Psychic Kids. So, intrigued as I was in such an unusual manner I merely breezed through the book. It had an unusual premise for the first “appearance” of a spirit—speaking through a white noise/ocean machine. Kendall Moorehead is the protagonist who seems a little angsty at times, yet adapts super quickly to any new situation—something that didn’t seem to go too well with what I knew of her character. There were a lot of curse words used—specifically the “s” word—that seemed to distract from the dialogue a bit.

Still, this was a spunky, spritely novel full of fascinating trivia on the paranormal and had endearing characters that were easy to relate to. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and will surely pick up the next one.