February 26, 2015

Inspiration

I want to enter a short story in my publisher’s call for submissions for a Christmas anthology, and even though that desire is there, I was struggling to find an idea, one that could develop into a ten thousand word story, and that I could write quickly. 

So I went to my favorite place for inspiration, Pinterest, and looked through the board (okay, three boards) that I have for Christmas.  And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a picture I didn’t remember pinning.  All of a sudden I had a male character, his occupation, and why he was out in a snowy forest with his dog.  A few clicks later, and I had a female character that will bring him no end of trouble and exasperation. Et voilà, a story is born!

Authors find inspiration in so many places.  Just a kernel can spark an idea, which can set off firecrackers in our brains. 

For me, I’ve had characters spring to life, then I have to write the perfect story for them.  Well, one in which they go through all kinds of turmoil to get their happy ever after.  Other story ideas have come to life with a setting, a scene idea, even a phrase or a headline.  Two songs have sparked ideas for stories, so totally different they are worlds apart.  This picture of a frozen lighthouse is what sparked the idea for a story yet to be written. 


Back in the early 90’s, we had breakfast with my Dad and his parents, and my grandfather said something about a club my grandmother belonged to.  To this day, it still makes me laugh.  Anyway, he called her social club by a funny name, and now I have the idea for a Cozy Mystery series.    
Over the years I’ve had so many ideas for stories that my binder (and Pinterest account) are brimming with inspiration for each book.  I don’t know if other authors are this way, but I get a feel for pictures and what story they belong in as I’m scrolling through pictures.  Give me three pictures of Christmas trees, and I know right away if they fit in my Holiday Romance or not.

So once I have the spark of an idea, then it’s time to craft the world for characters, choose settings, GMC (goals, motivations, and conflicts) for each main character.  And honestly, that’s usually the hardest part for me.  That’s what makes the story interesting, and keeps readers turning the page to see what happens.  And while it’s fiction, it has to be believable for the reader to stay tuned in the story.  Even in Paranormal or Urban Fantasy, readers want those worlds to make sense to them. 
You know those cooking shows where the chefs are all given the same ingredients and they have to come up with a meal?  You can give several authors the same picture/character/or setting idea, and each one will write a totally different story. 

I was invited to a Facebook author party last night, and I loved the idea this publisher had: several authors have written books all based in the same town. There are recurring characters and places, but each story is unique.  And they are all different genres.  It reminded me of the creative writing class I took in high school.  We, as a class, decided on the town, population, etc.  And each of us created a character and had to keep a journal about our lives in that same town.  I think the teacher gave us an idea for events in the town, and we had to come at it from our character’s viewpoints.  It was great fun.

So yes, anything can spark an idea for a book. 


Where do you get your inspiration?  As a reader, what are your favorite books to read? Do you like fiction or true stories?

February 24, 2015

How to THRIVE not Just Survive!

Kat's 5 Step Plan to THRIVE - Not Just Survive

Surviving
Did you notice that this year we didn't hear much talk about New Year’s resolutions? Could it be that people are already maxed out, carrying enough burdens? It seems to me, a lot of us are barely coping with life as it is. For many people the goal for next year is simply survival.



Surviving is something I’m very familiar with.

I spent much of my life in survival mode; surviving a lifelong battle with my weak immune system, the death of my mother when I was not yet fourteen, a difficult home life after that. After I got married I had multiple miscarriages, and we have a son with severe illness. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. I know how to survive.

As writers many of us face nearly impossible deadlines and a rigorous appearance and social media schedule. It’s easy to lose our balance and slip into survival mode. But I want to do more than just survive – I want to THRIVE.

THRIVE
But how do we switch from survival mode to THRIVE-AL mode (new word)? How can we thrive amidst all the stress and busyness of our high-octane lifestyle?
I’ll share my thoughts with you, but I’d love your input as well. What do you do to THRIVE?

Here is my 5 step plan to THRIVE:

  1. Spend at least part of the day disconnected. I plan to silence my smart phone, step away from the computer, turn off the TV, and focus on something human and physical for a couple hours. Perhaps it will be yoga, or working in the garden, or cleaning my kitchen. These disconnected moments are far more important than I had realized. They bring a sweetness and contentment to our lives, even if it means doing something as mundane as gardening or cleaning the kitchen. It offers us time to reflect.

  2. Spend time communing with God and nature. I’m sure most of you realize how important this is, but too often I let my day slide by without experiencing these all-important moments. This is a case of sacrificing what is most important for something less important. I vow to correct that, so that I can THRIVE.

  3. Stop multitasking quite so much. I admit I’m a workaholic. It’s not uncommon for me to have several projects running on my computer at the same time. Our culture puts a premium on multitasking. People who can multitask are perceived as more productive. In truth, studies have shown that people who multitask are generally less productive than people who focus on one task and complete it. I have interviewed a number of successful authors and discovered that those who have life in balance do not multitask. So, I plan to let go of some of my multitasking and try to do only one thing at a time.

  4. In as much as possible, I plan to eliminate elements in my life that don’t bring joy. There is a wonderful book that explains how to organize and simplify by evaluating what brings us joy. When I use the word joy I don’t mean: happy, bouncy, perky, party.  I mean; joy, contentment,
    peace, balance. These emotions are the rain and sunlight that help us thrive.  

    Here’s a link to that book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo Link: http://amzn.com/B00KK0PICK

  5. Lastly, I have decided my health comes before my success as a writer. It comes before all the other things I have stacked in front of it for the last twenty years. Naturally, this entails some dietary and exercise changes. The key here is deciding to make it a priority.
There you have it - this is my 5 steps plan to THRIVE. Share your thrive-al plans with us. 

What do you do to thrive? 


Kathleen Baldwin is the author of several Amazon bestselling Traditional Regency Romances. Her upcoming series for Tor Teen - A School for Unusual Girls has already won awards. Kirkus declares, "romance readers who prize both brains and valor in a heroine will be pleased to make Georgie's acquaintance."

February 19, 2015

.@VickiBatman - Measuring Time: tick-tock #MFRWorg #RLFblog #milestone

Tick-tock


I reached a milestone in Jazzercise this month: I’ve been working out for 32 years. (Yes, I know this admission ages me. Feel free to go on thinking I look younger than I am. Lol.)

Milestone:
I have been writing for ten years.
I have a momentous birthday.
Handsome’s company is 23 years old.
My #1 son has a significant birthday.

When my sons began school, I found time was measured by holidays--school starts in mid-August, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, back to school, Valentine’s Day, Spring Break, April Fool’s Day, Memorial Day, school is out.

Every year was the same for a long time. And did it ever fly by.

February 17, 2015

# My True Love Story by Phyllis Middleton



Thirteen years ago yesterday – February 16th – I met my future husband for the first time. We both knew before we saw each other that we were destined to be husband and wife.  And you ask, “How did you know that?”  Well, it’s like this….

Frank and I both joined the Christian matchmaking site – eHarmony the year before.  We were one of the first to join the service and answered 29 separate sections with a total of 500 questions.  It took a while, but on November 27th, 2001, the computer matched us together.

We communicated through the site email at first and then exchanged personal emails.  Since he was in the Dallas, TX area and I was in western Kentucky caring for my mother at the time, emails were the best way at the time.  Then we decided to stop communicating until after the holidays. I was very busy making costumes and acting in the church Christmas play and he was equally active. So we set a time in the first week of January to continue our ‘talks’.  I finally agreed to give him my phone number and when he called on that Saturday, January 5th, 2002, we talked for about four hours.

For the next month, we talked by phone just about every night and sent emails to each other.  We asked and answered the hard questions.  Discussions included every topic, money, work, sex, hobbies, pets, children, etc.  
We found that we were both on the same page.  Literally.

February 12, 2015

#PlottingPrincesses host author Anne Conley What are her Best Laid Plans? #MFRWorg #RLFblog #romance


The Plotting Princesses welcome Anne Conley! Let's get to know Anne:

Anne has written her entire life and has the boxes of angst-filled journals and poetry to prove it. She's been writing for public consumption for the last four years.  She lives in rural East Texas with her husband and children in her own private oasis, where she prides herself in her complete lack of social skills, choosing instead to live with the people inside her head.

Speed Round:

Favorite movie:  Dead Poet’s Societ 
Favorite book:  Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See 
Last book read:  Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda by Tara Lee Reed 
Favorite color: Blue Stilettos or flip-flops:  flip-flops 
Coffee or tea:  Coffee 
E-book or paperback:  E-book 

February 10, 2015

@kellyleefiction - Romance and sad love stories #sadlovestories #tissueworthy






The other day, my husband and I were driving down the road listening to the radio, and I heard a music lyric...."I hope you fall in love, and it hurts so bad." 

At first blush, you'd think, Gee, that's not very nice.  But in context, the song was about doing and experiencing literally everything, and wishing someone a full-to-bursting life. '

I paused to think for a moment, and some of the rawest, most profound emotional moments of my life weren't just the moments I was happiest, like my wedding, or the birth of my children.  They were also moments where I thought my chest would literally cave in from the gaping wound inflicted from a traumatic heartbreak. Sometimes, even the purest, most passionate love stories don't end happily. The guy doesn't always get the girl. Or the girl gets the guy, and guess what? Life happens. Tragedy strikes.
In the world of romance, everyone loves a happy ending. But are they always satisfying? Some of my favorite romances don't have "guy gets girl, lives happily ever after" endings. 

Like Untamed Heart, where our strong, quiet hero with the baboon heart (spoiler alert) DIES at the end!



Image result for titanic movie images
And Titanic...my GAWD, the tears that flowed at the end of that love story!!








February 5, 2015

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii 5-O and Kindle Fire Giveaway


Ever since childhood I have loved the opening scene from the TV show Hawaii 5-O.  Seriously, hula dancers, surfers, beaches, and good looking heroes. All grown up, I added the memorial for the USS Arizona to my Hawaii must-see list.

When not long ago I had a chance to visit Kona on the Big Island, I made plans to 'stop' in Honolulu.  So starting at 5am was the mad dash to pay my respects and then time permitting check out those famed TV show opening scenes.

Fortunately for this night owl, five o'clock in the morning is around ten am back home so a crack of dawn tour of Pearl Harbor was no problem.  I was able to explore the submarine Bowfin and then the battleship Missouri where the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed. But the Arizona Memorial was the star of my day. I learned so much about the ship, the servicemen aboard her, and the people who visit her.  Finally getting a chance to share a bit of this with my readers in my new release the Look of Love was especially dear to me.