February 13, 2019– First, let me say a very happybirthday to my momma. I love you and thanks for supporting me in everything. You are the best, and I’m so glad you’re my mom.
You read the title of this post correctly in that your next novel or storybook could very well be sitting on your bookshelf right now! I’m not talking about plagiarizing or copying other artists work, I’m talking about inspiration. As authors, we own a ton of different books that range from fiction to non-fiction, to romance, thrillers, biographies, magazines, historical fiction, and everything in between because we read as much as we write.
A few months back when I decided it was time to pitch a children’s story to some agents in New York, I knew I needed some fresh material. I also knew that I made a promise to myself that in 2019 I would use what I have. Now, normally, I would have gone to the bookstore and bought a bunch of books for inspiration, but this time, I went to my well-stocked library and pulled a book off the shelf. I was determined to take an idea and make it into a story, and that’s precisely what I did. I can’t give you any more details on this until it’s the right time, but I’ll update this post with news from what transpired with the agents:)
So, how can you use what you have on your shelf to write a great story that’s your own? Here’s how:
Start with non-fiction. You’ve heard the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction and if you’ve ever thumbed through a newspaper you’ll know that it’s true! Use headlines from your daily delivery that catch your attention. Here are few that I’ve put in my back pocket for later use: Woman searched for 24 years for the daughter she was forced to give up, Kitty hitches 40 km ride to Grimsby in a garbage truck, and Spiders Alive-The eight-legged exhibition. Also, think about using some headlines from around the world, a quick Google search will help you find inspiration.
Page 47, paragraph 2, sentence 3– This is a fun way to start a story! Quick, go to your bookshelf and choose a book. Turn to page 47, paragraph 2, sentence 3. Here’s what I found from the book that I chose by following the above directions: Toe wrestling began in the town of Wetton in 1970. How awesome is that for a starter? You can do this with any book and with any numbers you choose.
Turn to professional publications– I subscribe to a bunch of publications that are relevant to writing and publishing and one of my favourites is Writer’s Digest. It’s always packed full of information and good advice and sometimes even an idea or two. Pick up your trusted magazines either digitally or the ones that are covering the sofa and flip through them for ideas. Here’s one that I picked up from the most recent issue of Writer’s Digest: Investigative reporting often involves tracking down reluctant sources… Are you thinking what I’m thinking? What about a story about a reporter who goes to get answers from a source and they end up running for their life? What if they’ve uncovered a secret that’s too big to keep hidden? What if the reporter finds out that the reluctant source is their spouse? And the list of ideas go on and on.
There you have it; inspiration for your next book is almost certainly lurking in the corners of your bookshelf! It’s up to you to find it:) Happy Writing! X LLB
January 9, 2018- We haven’t done one of these for a long time and we’re way overdue to have some fun; I love photo writing prompts! They certainly help me break out of writing ruts when the ideas just aren’t flowing. The picture prompt below has unlimited opportunities to write about; this photo can break into multiple genres. Your imagination is the only limit! Have fun with this and happy writing. X LLB
November 14, 2018– We read a lot of books around here at Pandamonium Publishing House, as we should because we are writers. I’m a firm believer that the more you read, the better you write. We like to read all types of books including books that aren’t always in our genre. I’m currently reading an interesting and pretty short book that’s non-fiction and it’s written by Admiral William H. McRaven (talk about a cool name) who is retired from the United States Navy. The book is called, Make Your Bed, Little things that can change your life…and maybe the world.
Admiral McRaven gave a commencement speech to the University of Texas students, which you can view on Youtube. His school of thinking is that if you make your bed every morning, you’ll have accomplished the first task of your day. He also believes that making your bed reinforces the fact that the little things in life matter and if you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
This is my second time reading this book in a year. I read it at the beginning of the year and I’m re-reading it now. This book is fantastic because McRaven is right! I made my bed every single day except for four days over the past year and let me tell you, boy did it make a world of difference when I didn’t! When I neglected to make my bed, I went to bed restless, had a terrible sleep, couldn’t shut off my brain, and felt unsettled. That’s not to say that every day that I did make my bed was a great day, but the point was that no matter what life threw at me, I could come home, get into my perfectly made bed, and disappear from the world. Daily life requires structure and making your bed is the first step.
I hope that you’ll read this book as there are a lot of fantastic stories and lessons within. (My favourite chapter is number four, the sugar cookie story!)
September 21, 2018– I love picture prompts! Picture prompts are images that inspire you to write creatively; they’re useful for a couple of reasons:
They get you out of your comfort zone. More often than not, the image won’t match what genre you usually write in. Today’s picture prompt is especially true for me because I’m not a fantasy reader or writer.
They help you focus. Picture prompts force us to focus on an idea, and they don’t allow us to write randomly. They provide the bones for a story and allow us to branch out from there. They give us a bit of structure to get started.
September 5, 2018- We’ve all heard of brainstorming and I’m confident that as writer’s, we tend to do this to a fault. I say to a fault because of how much time we spend brainstorming instead of writing, which is really what we should be doing instead.
Brainstorming, as we know, is where you start with a blank piece of paper in front of you and you’re supposed to come up with new ideas. There’s a problem with the rigidity of this. We think that we’re just supposed to write down ideas, single words, and we are encouraged to think laterally.
What if I told you there was a better way? Enter Stormwriting! Here’s how to do it:
Gather writing materials
Find a cozy place
Write down your idea at the top of the page
Write down EVERYTHING that has to do with your idea.
Use Yes and What if as your guiding questions.
Keep writing, don’t edit! Just get it on paper.
Let’s do an example from one of my own novels set to launch next year:
My Name is Jessica Westlake (is the title so I put this at the top of the page)
Her name is Jessica Westlake, why is her name Jessica Westlake? Has this always been her name?
She is blonde with blue eyes, tall, trim, married, no children, having an affair with her neighbour
Her husband is a high profile lawyer, he cheats on Jessica with the mistress that works for him
They are rich in money but poor in morals
They have a big house, a maid, and nice cars
Jessica grew up poor, her parents were horrible and they did things to her that are inexplicable
They live in Boston in a very expensive neighbourhood
Her husband is abusive and treats her like garbage
What if the husband catches Jessica and the neighbour? What if he seeks vengeance for what they’ve done?
What if things were more complicated? What if the neighbour was also cheating with the husband?
See what I mean? It’s pretty easy to go down the rabbit hole on this exercise, isn’t it?
Also, this contains ZERO spoilers for my next novel:) I wouldn’t ruin it for you! Now get stormwriting!
April 11, 2018-Here are some excellent examples of mistakes that aspiring creative writers make! Which ones are you making?
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