Refueling the Creative, Imagination, Idea-Generatoring Part of My Brain

The thoughts dancing around in my brain leave me smiling. Creativity. Imagination. Ideas. I’ve surrounded myself with a quirky lifestyle that promotes soaring thoughts and a seemingly never-ending onslaught of new possibilities. I had gotten to the point where I thought it was natural and I didn’t have to work at it any more, so I stopped the constant embracing of muse. 
Instead of spending each of my days actively paying attention to the world around me and seeking out inspiration, I scurried through the hours, packing my day full and accomplishing and doing and checking off my list. 
It felt good. I was thrilled at how much I could get done and gave myself mental high-fives. I slipped into the new lifestyle and throughly enjoyed it. Until the day came when I realized my creativity had taken a nosedive and my imagination was falling asleep on me and ideas were becoming fewer and less exciting. 

That’s when I knew I needed to make a change. I didn’t panic. I didn’t bemoan the last couple of months (after all, I had learned a lot from them). I didn’t make any sudden visible changes. But I steadfastly began consciously working on my creativity, imagination, and idea generator.

While walking I listened to the slap, slap, slap of my feet hitting the gravel road. I concentrated on my half-swinging, half-jerking gait when I ran with a thumping bag over my shoulder. I took time to feel textures in the world around me. I gulped down books, reading at least an hour each day. I surrounded myself with words, paying attention to the cadence of people’s speech, listening to audio books and watching them play out in my brain, cheering on authors when they used creative word pictures. I pondered the meaning of different words, wondering which ones I could add to my repertoire. I randomly said words out loud, concentrating on how fun words like kaleidoscope sounded and felt in my mouth. 

I asked questions, to myself and to others. I listened to the way other people interacted with each other, noting the exchange, what made them tick. I feasted my eyes on beauty, letting my sight, and my brain, dwell until it came up with a satisfactory description instead of rushing on.

I began searching for ways to be creative other than with writing. I bought craft supplies, letting myself take time in choosing gorgeous colors and running my hand over the merchandise, feeling smooth, rough, and bumps beneath my fingers. I splurged and bought a box with 96 crayons, something I’ve wanted to have every since I was a little girl and my brother would let me sit in his room and use his overwhelmingly beautiful set of crayons to color in his Lassie coloring book.

The ideas began pouring in, tickling me with their uniqueness and making me dance for joy with the randomness, yet consistency, with which they came. Opening lines to unwritten books popped into my brain. Plot holes filled themselves. My mind was in constant motion, cataloging the world around me and storing them in my idea factory.

Today my imagination, creativity, and muse are back in full working order. Little, seemingly insignificant happenings explode into huge possibilities. I’ve reverted back to authorish me. Something as small as wearing sparkly socks with dress flats once again make me want to skip down the roads. Looking off in the distance I see an oddly shaped branch and suddenly a whole book goes poof and arrives in my brain. Sure, life might take a bit longer to live as I dance with unheard music and make a face at myself every time I pass a mirror, but do you know what? It’s worth it.

God is creative and I feel honored that He created us to be creative as well. Enough said.

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How are some ways you’re creative? What is your muse? 

A to Z Challenge Theme Announced

For the last three years I’ve taken part in the A to Z Challenge and I’m excited to have some really cool ideas for the 2016 round. For those of you who don’t know, the A to Z Challenge is where a huge group of bloggers (over eleven hundred are already signed up) take the month of April and each person picks a theme and then blogs about it every single day during the month, other than Sundays. The kicker is that each day corresponds with a letter in the alphabet. For example, the first day you write about something from your theme that starts with the letter A, the next day the letter B, and… Well, you get it.

Last year I let y’all choose the theme I wrote about and I was thinking of doing the same thing this year. Then a couple of weeks ago ideas started dripping into my thoughts and before I knew it, I had an all out attack plan forming and I knew exactly what I wanted to write about.

I am so very excited about Noveltea’s theme for this year, which is Creativity and Inspiration. I’m generally an extremely creative and inspired person, but that part of my brain has been lagging recently as I’ve discussed on here. Y’all should be happy to know that I’ve been having a fantastic time reviving those important elements of my life and you’ll, hopefully, get a fun picture tour during the month of April.

This last week I’ve spent a fair amount of time in preparation, including rearranging my office to accommodate some of the ideas I have. This challenge is going to be a lot of work, but oh, so much fun and so good for me.

I’ve already found myself morphing back into my creative tendencies and feeling a bit more vigor about life. Yay!

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Have you ever taken part in an A to Z Challenge? What theme would you chose? 

A Dash of Inspiring

No, I did not forget about my blog.

What happened is that my computer decided to rebel again, only this time worse than before. Hence I had to wait until I got a new (for me) laptop so I could continue this journey of blogging. The demise of my laptop also happened to coincide with a sudden strong urge to work on the second draft of When Life Hands You Lymes. See, I’ve been dreading the book and imagining all of the problems that are in it and hardly even daring even to peek at the words (although I did get the first half of the book read) and then boom! All at once I feel like hugging the words and dancing around with the book and editing, editing, editing. (Strange, no?)

I finally got desperate enough that I borrowed a laptop yesterday and downloaded my WIP from my email and spent a while going over the first chapter with a fine-toothed comb. It was glorious. The story wasn’t nearly as horrible as I thought it would be (in fact I was kinda impressed) and I had a lightbulb moment about a problem that needed fixed and I was once again reminded that editing can actually be fun.

And now to the post that I’ve been waiting to blog this whole week.

Work was crazy last week. Wonderful, but a little bit stretching. And added to that I was getting sick so there were a couple of instances when I wanted to find a dark corner and curl up and cry. So, being the resourceful person I am, I scouted out a dark, far away corner and sat down and cried and prayed and asked God for a lot of grace.

Then, while waiting for my face to return to somewhat of a normal state after my sob fest I checked my emails. The day before I had received an email from Ashley, fellow blogger, wondering if I was alright with her posting about me on her blog for a challenge she was doing. I had sent back a quick email telling her I would be honored and requesting a link to the blog. Well, when I checked my email I had a link, so I clicked on it.

The post was entitled Inspired By and I’m pretty sure my mouth dropped open as I read the post. I’m so very thankful to Ashley that she took the time to write the post and I’m also a little bit shocked that I could be so inspiring. (After all, I was reading the post right after having a crying session at work.)

There were several thoughts tumbling around inside my head as a read the post, the top ones being:

Woah, this encouragement came at just the right time! Thank You, God!

Wait a second, I thought I was really real and raw on my blog, but this sounds way too good to be me! 

And

Oh my! Ashley is so incredibly sweet! 


It also reminded me that a lot of the time we don’t know how our actions are effecting other people and that instead of getting discouraged when it feels like we’re getting no where in life, we should continue plowing ahead toward our goal.

I’ve blogged for three years now and for the last year it’s been very rare that I don’t blog four or five days a week. (This week being a sad exception due to lack of computer.) I spend hours each week pouring out my thoughts, ideas, triumphs and struggles onto Noveltea and hardly ever hear a word back from any of Noveltea’s readers. And that’s fine. That’s the nature of blogging. Then I receive the email from Ashley at the perfect time letting me know that I’m an inspiration to her and my whole week was seriously better because of that.

Then, due to my busy week and not feeling well I didn’t email Ashley until today thanking her for the blog post and therefore she had no clue how big of an impact she had in my week. (By the way, THANK YOU Ashley! I really appreciate you and your post!)

So, my challenge for you today is to tell someone who inspires you how much they have impacted their life and in that way you can spread a little bit of sunshine. And, while you’re at it, remember that you are impacting the lives around you, too!

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Who is someone who you are inspired by? 

Where Dandelions Grow – Where the story came from part 2

Click here to read part one.
For me, the coolest part about Where Dandelions Grow is that I loosely based the four main characters off of me, my sister, and Alexa and Aubrey.
The book was a graduation present to Alexa. A tribute to our childhood. None of the characters besides the cousins were anything like reality, but that still gave me something to work off of. A time for me to explore the beauty of cousin-ship.
I wrote for six weeks and it was my favorite book to write.
As I explored the deep friendship we four cousins in real life had growing up, and then transformed the elements (and at time, the stories) to four characters, I was reminded again about all the love I’ve been basking in for forever.
Where Dandelions Grow is about hope, love, dreams, forgiveness and family. All those words have deep and special meanings to me; so to incorporate them into a single story made me want to dance with joy.
Oh! Methinks I’ve forgotten a very important element. Alexa had written a short story and let me read it and that’s what sparked the initial idea and setting for the book. She graciously agreed to let me use it (with minor changes) as the preface of Where Dandelions Grow.
Alexa also wrote two articles and they fit so perfectly into the storyline I was creating that I asked her if I could use them in my book. It was especially special for me using her writing since the book is about cousins.
I have toyed with the idea of creating a series, giving each one of the cousins a chance to tell their own story. Who knows, someday it might happen…
What about you? Have you ever had a story or idea fall into your brain with such clarity that you can’t wait to begin working on it?
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Today we have a guest appearance by Autumn Genre. She’s keeping me company this morning while I’m writing and I wanted to let y’all see how adorable she is:
(Looking at this picture I’m thinking, like, no wonder so many people think I’m in my early teens! Craziness. No way I would guess that girl^ to be in her twenties.) 

*Where Dandelions Grow* – Where the Story Came From Part 1

Sometimes inspiration comes for a book in an instant and won’t stop dancing around in my head until I get it out in writing. That’s the way it was with Where Dandelions Grow
It was one of the last days of May in 2012 and I was sitting out under a canopy at my cousin Alexa’s high school graduation party watching another cousin, Aubrey, play her cello with her quartet, the Sorelle. As I listened to the viola, two violins and cello blend together perfectly, a story jumped into my brain and refused to leave. Complete with the names for the characters, which is totally unusual for me
Over the next few days I walked around saying the names over and over as the rest of the story fell into place. Kamryn, Lexie, Teal and Destiny. Kamryn, Lexie, Teal and Destiny.

Four cousins. Four fighting mothers. A dream childhood cut short by a family feud. Questions. Searching. Answers. Reconciliation. Taking the high road. Searching for peace. Dandelions.  
My story was so uniquely different from anything else I’d ever written that I mildly freaked out. It was my first try at writing young adult fiction and my first time to tackle a story so removed from the happy, loved-filled acceptance I basked in from my family. 
I was concerned my parents wouldn’t understand. They might think I viewed my childhood the way Destiny did which is about as far from the truth as you can get. Or maybe I’d get it totally wrong and people would look down their noses at me for being so unrealistic. Or maybe..?
Silencing the the negativity with a stern lecture, I set to work, giving myself several guidelines to ensure my book continued and I wouldn’t get lax on the project. 
1. I was not allowed to go back through and re-read the book or do any editing until I was finished writing it
2. I would write the story I had, not caring about what other people thought 
3. No one else would see my project until I was finished with the first draft
4. I wouldn’t begin another book until this one was done
5. I would aim for 50,000 words Which would make it the longest story I’d written 
Part 2 Coming Soon to a Computer Near You!

Inspiration

Inspiration. It’s a delightful word; it even feels beautiful on my tongue. It’s filled with wonder, with endless possibilities, with a thousand stories yet to be written. 

As a writer, my job pivots on inspiration which is why I post about it on here so often…. Without at least a glimpse of the important element, my writing would be very stagnant indeed. When inspiration is flowing through my veins, it’s as if a current of possibilities flows along with it into an ocean of excitement. 
Inspiration is very important to me, but sometimes it’s lacking. 
I discovered early on that I can’t sit around and wait for inspiration to come find me. I have to go searching for it like an ornery puppy dog who’s escaped. Even after I’ve found it, it sometimes slips away when I’m in the middle of a project and I’ve found that I’m so much more productive when I’m working with inspiration by my side that sometimes not all the time it’s worth it to stop what I’m doing and embark on the quest to bring it home. 
How I get inspired: 
*I take a walk (or swing) while listening to music and doing a lot of talking yes, talking out loud
*I make a list of things I’m thankful for and take a few minutes to dwell on all the blessings I have
*I make a list mental or physical of amazing things I’ve been able to do or places I’ve gone 
*I read old blog posts of mine sounds crazy, but it works
*I look outside and take time to really notice the beauty 
*I pet my dog, rabbit, rat, or the goats
*I imagine what life could be like in the future 
*I listen to music this is a REALLY big one!
*I read other blog articles or sometimes go on Facebook or Google+ or my on-line writing group When I do that, I have to make sure I keep track of time and only use a few minutes; you know, being for real and not using it for procrastination 
*I read part of a book I really enjoy
*I take a break and do something like laundry or cooking 
*I close my eyes and just imagine 
*I clean my office a dirty office stunts inspiration 
*I read through encouraging notes, comments and letters people have sent me 
*I do something unique like eating a fragment that fell off of a fossilized T-rex tooth 
*I read quotes by other authors
*I set short-term goals for myself write 500 words in 15 minutes about going duck hunting
*I make silly faces 

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What about you? How do you find inspiration? I’d be delighted to hear! 🙂 

4 – Action Kids Book Release

4 Days!

And the countdown continues. 
I like countdowns a lot. And lists. And numbers. And patterns. And statistics it’s a wonder I don’t like math more. So these posts have been a lot of fun. I would regale you with round after round of ambiguous patterns I’ve discovered in life, lists that ultimately hold little to no intrinsic value in the grand scheme of things and minute detailed statistics in which I compare my blog stats from one day, week, and month to the next, but I’m afraid most of y’all would find it rather tedious. 
So, now we’ll just talk about a book that I read that pretty much blew my mind. 
Last night when I got home from work I was stressed out most likely because I’m having a hard time focusing because of my upcoming book release. Seriously people, it’s doing strange things to my brain. I can’t even function properly. And I don’t even understand why. and I decided to look for a Middle Grade book to read on my kindle cause I’m trying to inundate my life with reading MG books right now since that’s what I write. 
I downloaded some rather ehh-looking free books and one that seemed rather promising. Of course I started reading the promising-looking one. PEOPLE. It’s one of those books that if I had read the blurb I probably never would have opened it because it’s not my style. It was a si-fi book. Or at least I think it was. I’ve never read those kind of books because I’ve started them and haven’t liked them at all. But I read this book. All the way through. In four hours. Without really stopping. And I liked it. Maybe a lot, but I’m not even sure. 
Mostly I’m just kinda in shock. Because I read a si-fi book. For real. All the way through. And I enjoyed it. I didn’t know this could happen to me. It’s so weird. It would be like someone who loves classical music and plays it for a living suddenly discovering great delight in rap music. Mind blowing. 
Ok, moving on now. 
Since it’s only 4 more days until the release of the first book in the Action Kids series, here are four people who inspire me with my writing:
1. Aubrey – My cousin. Very seriously inspiring 
2. Catherine Farnes – One of my favorite authors. I read her books a lot 
3. My adopted dad – He’s walked in my shoes not really, his feet are way bigger than mine and he’s encouraging, successful and helpful 
4. My family – Yep. They’re amazing. And I’m counting the whole huge group of them as one. Aubrey says I’m cheating. And I say it’s my blog so I can cheat if I want to
Of course this isn’t an all-encompassing list by any means. But it’s a good start. Inspiration is good.

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Now it’s YOUR turn! If you feel so inclined, you can either write a post (and link it back to this one) where you talk about 4 people who inspire you and leave a link in the comments section. Or, just leave your list in the comment section. 
Everyone who participates during the next two weeks will be entered into a drawing for their chance to receive one of the very first signed copies of the Action Kids book!

Inspiration

Last night, after a long day, I got to sit down and hang out with my musical cousin, Aubrey. It was amazing. Just about every time we’re together, I marvel over how similar musicians and writers are. Aubrey’s and my personalities are totally different. The way we think through stuff is different (she’s logical…). The way we see life is different (she’s realistic…). And yet we can relate to one another in a way that I don’t relate to most people. 
The dedication. The art. The inspiration. The dreams. Taking every-day-thoughts and turning them into a story. The challenges. The hurdles. The joys. The hopes. 
We talked about how you can’t just wait for inspiration to come. About how to market our products. About daily schedules. About the writing process. She made me want to concentrate on writing more (she has that effect on me) and I cheered her on with her journey. 
I love the time I get to spend with Aubrey. Even though we have to work through misunderstands caused by different personalities, it’s well worth it. I know I can count on her to keep me on track. She’s the kind of girl who won’t listen to excuses, but pushes me to the next level. Some days when I feel like I’ve worked enough, I think of Aubrey and all her hours of practice and I realize I can work just a little bit longer. I watch her dedication and I’m inspired. I’m thrilled beyond words to have her in my life. Thanks, Aubs! 
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! -Psalm 133:1 

What about you? Who do you have in your life who inspires you to keep going, even when the going gets rough? Oh yes, and Happy Monday, folks!