The Outdoors: My Writing Inspiration

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Guest Post
By Gayle M. Irwin

I whipped the vehicle to the side of the road, put it into “park” and jammed on the emergency brake. I jumped out and joined about 50 other people along the bank of the Madison River inside Yellowstone National Park. We watched a pair of trumpeter swans gliding gracefully through the ripples of water with six cygnets. Although I had seen swans before, rarely had I encountered so many babies with their parents. I’ve not experienced such a sight since.

I relish open spaces, like those found in Yellowstone. Public lands, from parks and forests to wildlife refuges and national monuments, provide sacred spaces to still one’s soul, open one’s heart, and inspire creativity in one’s mind. I am fortunate to live near such special places, and each visit produces a piece of writing or two from the experience.

Other landscapes can stir the imagination, too, such as community parks, botanical gardens, and picturesque farms. Nature’s sights, sounds, and smells open the book of our senses and provide opportunities for creativity to flow.

Two other special outdoor spaces spark creativity for me. One is a ranch located 75 miles from my home, owned by some friends. About three times a year I travel and stay there for an extended period of time. The sage and grass-covered hills, rolling Powder River, and the distant Bighorn Mountains provide solace, and livestock and wildlife encounters bring smiles. Crimson sunrises greet me, and golden sunsets beckon sleep. The quiet relaxes me, and my friends’ generosity brings me joy. The modular guesthouse at which I stay possesses large windows from which one gazes upon the nearby fields and woods. White-tailed deer, fanned-out turkeys, and dancing sandhill cranes abound. I’ve composed many articles, short stories, and book chapters at this scenic and tranquil place. Continue reading “The Outdoors: My Writing Inspiration”

How Author Dee S. Knight Finds Inspiration

Book Blog Promos (2)Guest Post
By Dee S. Knight

Every writer gets inspiration from somewhere, a muse that shouts (or whispers) in their ear, asking for a book. Often, I find mine in songs or from a phrase in a conversation.

I wrote the paranormal, erotic romance, The Man of Her Dreams (soon-to-be republished), based on a song I heard while out driving. The song was Wish You Were Here. It was about a man who had gone away for business and sent his wife a postcard talking about how beautiful the place was. He ended with “Wish you were here!” He died on the way home, and she received the card after his death. In The Man of Her Dreams, the heroine receives a strange card from her husband and then he dies on the way home. Her card ends in mystery and intrigue. I am enjoying re-reading this book as I update it for a publication this summer! Continue reading “How Author Dee S. Knight Finds Inspiration”

The Literary Pilgrim – a Writer’s Journey

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Have you ever gone on a literary pilgrimage? If so, where and why?

Pilgrimage is an important part of my faith. In Islam, traveling to the venerated city of Mecca (known as Hajj) is a sacred journey that provides those blessed with the chance to perform Hajj rites expiation of their sins and closeness to the creator.

Some people save for their entire lives to make the holy trip. Others go on Hajj to die. It is an arduous trek. Every pilgrim has their Hajj stories, telling of illnesses, injuries, and challenges to finishing everything without blowing their cool. Despite the physical obstacles, many Muslims through the world strive to go on Hajj. The emotional and spiritual benefits far outweigh any difficulties.

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Author Interrupted – Dealing with Distractions

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What are your top three distractions and how do you deal with them?
Note: I am writing this post on the road. Please forgive any typos.

A writer’s life is full of all kinds of distractions, which can make finding the time to develop ideas and getting out of one’s head and onto paper (or the screen) difficult. I have mentioned that time management can be an external factor hindering writing.

Damn those twenty-four hours in a day. They just won’t listen and become more. Authors have professional (novel writing is not the main source of income for most) and personal lives, each demanding energy and time. Finding sufficient time to develop a plot, construct character arcs and write content can be difficult.  One cruel irony is that creative often burgeons when there is no time. Authors scramble to find a moment to weave a story, but frustration usually sets in when the brilliance blazing in their minds flickers into embers because that’s how it often works. Write right now or risk losing everything.

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Continue reading “Author Interrupted – Dealing with Distractions”

Weaving Stories Readers Want

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Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Authors frequently discuss notions of originality and fulfilling reader expectations. I have read posts all over social media and on blogs, all with writers seeking to draft texts that pristine from anything else written under the sun and that will satisfy a mass of readers worthy of their artistry. Both are exercises in futility.

Defeatist? No. A powerful storyteller resolves to the realities that neither is their story completely untold nor will it enchant every pair of eyes (ears hearing, fingertips touching) gracing it.  At the crux of any good story is the distinctive style and voice of the weaver of the tale, which is the primary way an author can create something that is theirs to share for people to connect with and respond.

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Research – A Key Element to Storytelling

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What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I spend a lot of time researching all kinds of things for various writing projects. I need to research curriculum development and pedagogical methods for my work with the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative. I just spent the past few days hitting Google for historical and cultural research while taking part in an anti-racism workshop.

My job teaching at the college and romance scholarship also requires time researching. Before leaving for Chicago, I looked for additional sources as I edited an essay about African American Muslim romance fiction (yes, it’s a thing) and how female protagonists are othered. It is interesting how Muslim authors use the other woman trope in love triangles.

Focus, Lyndell. Okay.

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It may seem that so many demands will make research a tedious exercise. The opposite is true for me. Continue reading “Research – A Key Element to Storytelling”

#OpenBook: Pouring out Money to Spill Ink

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What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I will have to split my answer to this week’s prompt into two categories: 1)writer and 2) author. It may seem like an exercise in semantics, but the distinction is important. In addition to my short stories and books, I do a TON of writing in different spheres that have required me to spend money in varying amounts and capacities.

You guys know how I get. Bear with me.

Continue reading “#OpenBook: Pouring out Money to Spill Ink”

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