Inspiration and Innovation

I’ve been having some difficulty keeping my motivation up for this NaNoWriMo this month. Part of it is this cold that has been kicking my butt and part of it is the story I’m trying to write. I like it but I don’t know where it’s going. So, I’ve been looking for some inspiration and started reading through the blog posts of The Green Dragon Artist, Christy Jackson Nicholas, on how she organizes and writes her novels. Though they are full of good information, and inspirational photographs from Ireland, one thing in particular struck me. She talks about doing research before she begins to write, 15 hours of it for one book, and it hit me – I have let the research side of the equation slide!

I used to research, in books and online, until I reached a threshold where the information spontaneously began to recombine into something new, a piece of writing that combined my fictional story and my knowledge. Lately, however, with my intensive schedule of work, commute, home, child, etc., I have let the research side of the equation slide and that is part of why I am having trouble with this particular book I want to write about a pandemic. I need to know more about how many people we might lose and how that would affect life at every level and what would happen when the power grid went down. Without them, I am stymied.

Thanks, Christy!


2017 NaNoWriMo Calendar


Mrs. Bell’s Cat: A Short Tale for Halloween


Mrs. Bell’s Cat

One fall day, Mrs. Bell opened the bay windows in her sitting room as she was dusting. She didn’t notice the lithe little shadow that slipped in, slid through the doorway into the dining room and up the stairs to her guest bedroom on the second floor, where it found a nice dark closet to rest.

Mrs. Bell bustled about her Saturday cleaning, a kerchief over her soft white curls to keep them neat.  As always, the house was in perfect order, each item replaced where it belonged as soon as she was done with it.  Her husband, Harold, God rest his soul, had been a fastidious man but even he had felt Mrs. Bell’s wrath when he had carelessly left a newspaper on a chair.

No, now that she had the house to herself, Mrs. Bell kept everything just so. Therefore, Saturday cleaning did not take more than half the day. In the morning, she pulled out the glass cleaner, scouring powder, vacuum and mop to make sure the house positively sparkled.

She started by emptying all the waste baskets and then cleaning them before relining them with white plastic bags. Then she scoured the sinks and scrubbed the commodes. She replaced the cat litter and vacuumed the house from top to bottom before mopping all the floors that were not covered in carpeting.

Twice a year she took down the curtains and washed them while she cleaned the windows, washed the woodwork with oil soap and the wallpaper with a special cleaner.

After a modest lunch of soup and half a sandwich, she went out to the garage to get her car. As she stepped out the door in the breezeway and turned to pull it shut, her neighbor, who happened to be out walking her little Jack Russell Terrier, hailed her.

Mrs. Bell put on a reserved smile and walked down the little sidewalk, refusing to yell across the yard as her neighbor did, though she didn’t get too close to the yappy little dust mop her neighbor called a dog. “Good morning, Edith.”

“I see you finally got yourself some company?” her neighbor said, nodding toward the front window.

Mrs. Bell turned toward the house and followed her neighbor’s gaze to see the gray cat that she had brought home from the humane society, sunning itself in the window. She glared at the cat but smiled sweetly before turning back to her neighbor. “Yes, it’s so much company, I almost can’t stand it.”

Once she’d managed to extricate herself from the conversation with Edith, Mrs. Bell pulled her car out and drove down to the market to pick up a few provisions, then visited the library and, finally, drove her little gray Honda home again. Once everything was put away, she relaxed in the sitting room with a book until time to make dinner, some nice poached fish and peas. After dinner, she watched Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.

That night, she was cleaned up and dressed in her long white nightgown, tucked up in bed, thinking of the lovely sermon to come in the morning, then the social hour after, where she would serve coffee and cookies with the other ladies of St. James Church.

Mrs. Bell’s houseguest, though, was just beginning to stir. It slipped out from under the door and puddled there for a moment. It slunk along the wall of the room, as if testing the confines. At the door into the hallway it hesitated then the whole shadow seemed to vibrate.

It flowed more surely now as it slid back down the stairs and under the door into the kitchen. It stopped and vibrated again.

The gray cat turned from its water bowl and hissed, standing on tip toe. The cat’s fur stood up in a ridge as it curled its back end around, trying to protect its flank.

It didn’t matter, it was over in a minute. The shadow flowed over the cat, thinning to slide in through the nostrils. The cat shook its head side to side and staggered a few steps. It shook its head then dropped to the floor. At last, the flanks did not rise. The cat’s green eyes stared blindly.

After a few minutes, the cat clumsily stood and shook itself. It put one paw in front of the other and staggered, as if it were drunk. With each movement across the room, though, it became more graceful and natural. Finally, it reached up and batted with one paw until it managed to turn the lock on the doorknob and shouldered the door open to escape the kitchen.

It was moving easily now and took a lap around the downstairs, looking and sniffing.

At last, it came to the stairs and climbed them, going directly to Mrs. Bell’s bedroom, where the door stood open. The cat padded silently into the room and leapt easily onto the bed.

Mrs. Bell woke with a start. She switched on the lamp to find the cat sitting serenely next to her.

She stared for a moment. “Howard? Is that you?”

The cat blinked slowly and then began to purr.  With a cry, she gathered him into her arms.  “Oh, Howard! I knew as soon as I heard about the cats turning up suffocated around town that you’d be back soon so I went right out and got this one from the humane society.”

She kissed the cat as it purred then wiped the fur from her mouth and wondered how long she’d be able to put up with that.


*I hope you enjoyed the story! ~ M.

NaNoWriMo 2015 Word Count Inspiration Calendar

Hi Folks – I just put together a word count/ inspiration calendar for 2015 NaNoWriMo for my writer’s group so I’ll post it here in case anyone would like a copy. The first one is a .pdf but I’ll also include it as a .jpeg in case you want to set it as the background on your computer, the way I just did. It’s a simple one this year but I hope you like it.

2015NaNoWriMoCalendar<—– .pdf file


And the refrigerator too – a Father’s Day memorial


My father died last October. On the last day I saw him, in the hospital, I said good-bye and told him I loved him. I said, “see you later.” It seemed to me like he wanted to say something but couldn’t get it out. Instead he said, “later, later.” But later never really came.

My mother called at 12:45 in the morning to say that she had heard from the hospital that he had passed. We were grateful that Hospice had been able to send a gentleman in to sit with him over night but it seemed that my father had waited for everyone to leave, then left himself.

I went to work the next day, to wrap things up so I could be away for several. As I walked back to the break room at lunch time, I passed a cart of books waiting to be shelved. The last book on the cart had fallen over to lay face up and the cover was a beautiful watercolor of a rainbow trout, the title said “Trout Reflections.” I grabbed it. My father was an avid fly-fisherman and had taught me to fly fish as a teen. It was probably the time when we had connected the best, and was undoubtedly the most harmonious time in our relationship.

That night, I got home from work and was in the next room when my refrigerator started making an odd growling noise. It would growl on an up note and then stop, growl and stop, growl and stop. It continued for several minutes. I walked into the kitchen and listened. It made me think of how my father, dressed in the tiger print bathrobe my mother had made him, would tease me as a child saying, “grumble, grumble, growl.”

Feeling slightly foolish, I said out loud, “Dad, if that’s you, please stop messing with my refrigerator. I need it to keep working for a while longer. It’s okay, I know you loved me, I love you too.” It made the noise two more times and then stopped. It never made that noise again. Unfortunately, the next day it died too. My Dad always did like a good laugh.

Shhh . . . I’m writing.

Yes, I’m still out here. Still writing and submitting, which is why I haven’t been posting. There are times when you realize that if you want to actually accomplish your goals of being published, you have to shut up and write.

I recently heard about a wonderful web site called where you can take courses for free from professors at top universities around the world. I signed up for the Science Fiction and Fantasy course, hoping it would help me look at the literature a little more deeply. It required reading a full length book every five days, doing a short assignment and then responding to assignments from four other people. I quickly realized that the timing was really not right. I can either write or do a course, along with work and family. Both is just too much.

Right now I have about a dozen short stories that I’ve started and a couple novels to edit. I’m sending things out and hope to have some good news soon. I’ll post when I think of something useful or interesting to say.

How do you put a soundtrack behind written fiction?

I haven’t written anything here in a while. The good news is that I’ve been writing and submitting fiction as much as my schedule allows, racking up the rejections and all. Anyway, I had a thought the other day that I wanted to share.

George Lucas once said something to the effect that a soundtrack is a large portion of a movie. Now, I remember him saying this, I think it was during an Academy Award ceremony back in about 1993 but that’s over 20 years ago. I tried looking it up and the quotes I come up with say 50% so let’s go with that.

I started thinking, how do we create a sound track with a piece of writing? I don’t mean literally. I suppose I could mention pieces of music, put quotes from lyrics at the beginning of every chapter, etc., but I don’t think that’s the answer.

I find that I enjoy fiction written by people who are either poets or also write poetry a great deal, it’s somehow richer. So, my suggestion is that we create soundtracks for our fiction by our word choice, by the rhythm and flow we create in the sentences we write. Then there’s all the wonderful tools of the poet – alliteration, metaphor, simile, hyperbole and anything else you care to include.

I’ve been thinking of creating a short story that simulates the improvisation of jazz. Soon, maybe in April during Camp NaNoWriMo. There are a couple projects to finish up first.

Just a thought.

2014 NaNoWriMo Calendar (National Novel Writing Month)

Thought I’d offer this here for anyone who would like one for this year. I tried to find quotes for inspiration that I haven’t seen a million times before but I kept a few of my favorites from last year. Just click on the image to get the full size. I created it as an 8 1/2 by 14 Microsoft Publisher file then saved it as a .jpeg.2014NaNoWriMoCalendar

A Bit of #CampNaNoWriMo Inspiration

Camp NaNoWriMo Pompts

Camping out!


First, a little update. It’s been an interesting 11 days of writing for #CampNaNoWriMo. I started out with the idea that I would write one short story a day, no matter how short, on a different prompt. (Witness my last two posts on this blog of prompts gathered from Pinterest.) Instead, I found myself after two or three starts, writing an Urban Fantasy novel that keeps expanding with each prompt.

Everything that I see or think of seems to get applied to this story and the writing is going as fast as I have time for. I am about 6,000 words behind but I have 12,000 to call my own and a lot more ideas for scenes to write. It is positively exhilarating and I don’t know where it’s coming from!

A few things this past 11 days have inspired me. I came across a link to some excerpts from an interview with Chinua Achebe on a writer’s ability to inspire society. You can find it here –

Then there are these great sheets of lists that can be applied to your writing from Anika on her DeviantArt page. I’m thinking to use the sheets on Common Character Habits and Character Flaw Reference Sheets to help round out my characters. (Can’t be having those heroes and heroines too perfect!) She also offers a Character Hobby Reference Sheet, Character Fear Reference Sheet, and Character Motivation Sheet.

As usual, my writer’s group last night was both relaxing and inspiring.  I sure need the laughs and I go home fired up to write even when I’m not feeling my best.

I’m not even sure where I came across the information at this point but I have to confess that I never knew Eudora Welty had written a book on writing called, well, On Writing. My sister had given me her autobiography, One Writer’s Beginnings some years ago and I fell in love with it. (I have a strong tendency toward autobiographies by writers.) I went to look for On Writing in our library system and found only one library owned it. I ordered it and it arrived today but, sadly, it has been so heavily underlined and annotated that I don’t think I can read it without my brain exploding!  *grumblegrumblegrumble*

Feeling like procrastinating? If you’re doing #CampNaNoWriMo, how is it going?

Camp NaNoWriMo Prompts: Part 2


Camp NaNoWriMo Pompts

Camp NaNoWriMo Prompts


Here they are, prompts for the second half of Camp NaNoWriMo in July, or whenever you want to use them.  I’ll be using one a day for July. Enjoy!


  1. “The most painful goodbyes are the ones that are never said and never explained.” – Write about losing someone where there is no goodbye, be it intentional or unintentional.
  2. “Expect anything from anyone. The devil was once an angel.” – Write a character who seems one way but turns out to be another way, or even really is how they seem but does something unexpected.
  3. “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Anais Nin – Write a scene from a character’s point of view and work on investing it with their perspective rather than being objective.
  4.  “The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn.” – Write about a character making a choice between two options.
  5. “Doing something weird and thinking ‘this is why I don’t have a boyfriend.” – Write it.
  6. “I think a part of me will always be waiting for you.” – Write about when he/she comes back.
  7. “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.” – Write about a character who thinks their life is going to be one way then something happens to turn that on its head.
  8. “Although we never said it to each other, I think we both knew.” – What? What did they both know that they weren’t saying? Where the body was buried? That they loved each other? What?
  9. “Life is about using the whole box of crayons.” – Write a character that is totally different than you would usually write and put it into your story. See what happens!
  10. “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” C.S. Lewis.  – How about believing in them, or even living them? Write a fantastical tale in which the main character is an older person who has lived a life doing exactly what they should.
  11. “And though she be but little, she is fierce.” William Shakespeare – Write a character is diminutive but fierce.  How little and how old is up to you!
  12. “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.” – Write about trying to tell the truth when someone, or everyone, doesn’t want to hear it.
  13. “Once I catch you in a lie, it makes me question everything you said.” – Write a story about betrayal.
  14. “She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” – Write a fearless character, either foolishly or because she/he has nothing left to fear.
  15. “I love how coffee tricks me into thinking I’m in a good mood for about 27 minutes.” – Write about a day that starts out nicely then goes downhill.
  16. “Actually, I can.” – Can what? Write about a character who does something everyone tells him/her they cannot.
  17. “I got a war in my mind.” – Write about a character who has a war going on in their mind, either they are trying to decide something or more literally due to mental instability.



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