Category Archives: Writing Life

Reflections on the craft of writing, samples of my writing — a very broad category.

What Inspires Your Art? #Amwriting reflections

I’m always intrigued with how artists get the ideas for their stories. It’s a glimpse into creative process — but also a reminder that sometimes awesome ideas come out of nowhere!

Campfire Stories CoverMy short story, Sisters of the Lake, was recently included in the collection, Campfire Stories. This story was one that took me a number of years (maybe over a decade) to come to. I honestly can’t remember when I wrote the first draft, but I quite clearly recall the inspiration of it.

When I was growing up my family would go camping at this one particular lake. It was (and still very much is) a magical place for me, somewhere very special. It’s where I often find inspiration – and this particular story came to me as I sat out on a peninsula looking out over the lake, remembering the times I spent looking over the edge of our canoe at the lake that seemed to extend down forever (it is one of the clearest lakes in the world).

So I wrote a story, about a girl who went to a place very similar to the lake, and the world that could exist under it. But something about the story didn’t quite work – I couldn’t nail down the ending, couldn’t find the right way to tell the tale.

And then this group of people I’d gotten to know through some Camp NaNo’s decided we wanted to try our hand at a story collection. Since we were the Cabin in the Words, why not focus on the theme of Campfire Stories? And that helped me realize just how to tell the story.

One of the fun things about this collection is that they’re all such different stories, and so are the things that have inspired us.

Jill Marcotte contributed The Collector to this series. “As with much of my writing, stupid conversations with my husband made up the bulk of the inspiration. He’s the kind of person that I like to spew my unfiltered thoughts at (which makes you wonder why he married me), and we were driving down a dark road in California and swapping ideas for scary stories on our way to a campsite. We got there very late and everyone else was already asleep and so we went to bed without telling any of our creepy stories, but he made me walk in the dark by myself to go pay for the campsite. I think I heard a thousand nightmares in the trees during that ten minutes, and a few of them were made into stories.”

Kalen Williamson contributed a few stories: “With The Beast, I wanted to do something fun and a little scary. Dare I even say campy? I felt inspired by all the tales of wolves lurking in the woods like the Big Bad Wolf, werewolves, and Lycans. It’s a great tale to tell around a campfire.

Ghost Boy focused more on the emotional element of fear, and how unfair life can be. My favorite part about ghost stories is learning the history of the ghost. It was exciting to create Leonard’s ghost history. I liked thinking about why he would still be haunting Earth. I may even do a part 2!”

Melanie Endsley Francisco/Ansley Ashe wrote One Tall Tale to End Them All, and said: “I had started work on a completely different piece for Campfire Stories. I was writing a camping/ghost story about an abandoned stone house in the woods, when I left everything at home and went on vacation with my family. On our way home from South Dakota and Mount Rushmore, we went through The Badlands National Park. I loved the rugged landscape and it was over 100 F outside that day, so conditions were especially harsh. I knew then I had the makings of a story. I went home and wrote a story about a kick ass girl who didn’t let things down.”

Lucy Jayne  said Fairy Dust was inspired by the social media hashtag that we use #cabininthewords. In my mind it grew into a series of vivid images, the story then emerged through the events that needed to happen in order to pass through those images. One of the most important things was the teeth, this fairy needed to be the opposite to a fairy inspired story that I’d written a few months earlier.

Where do you draw your artistic inspiration from?  What’s one of your favorite inspiration moments?


Interested in reading the stories that grew out of these seeds of ideas?  Be sure to check out Campfire Stories!


That #NaNoWriMo Time

NaNo-2017-Participant-Facebook-CoverSo, here we are.  Mid-November.  Which means that those in the writing world are probably talking one way or another about National Novel Writing Month (well, at least it seems like all the writers I know are!) Some people love it, some people hate it, some people settle happily in the middle of “it words for me,” or “it doesn’t work for me.”

Personally I’m a fan.  This year is my 9th year participating (over the period of 11 years).  Hopefully it will be my 5th year “winning” — in the sense of getting to 50,000 words. Nearly all the years I’ve tried I’ve “won” in some sense, because for me NaNo is about the personal victory of making strides in my writing life.

For instance, one year where I didn’t “win” I made a new friend who is now the person I get together to talk writing with (and to write with) on a semi-regular basis.

Another year I didn’t “win” was the year I got the seeds of the idea that would turn into the novel (which I did work on another year when I did win) which I am looking forward to continuing edits in to turn into a published piece.

This year I’m ahead of the game in the writing, so the chances I’ll “win” are high (unless something crashes in my way, but I’m less that 20,000 words from the goal, so it would have to be a pretty powerful something). But more important than that, I set out this year with the goal of getting past this monster block that’s been in my way for the past year-plus. It kept me from writing, it kept me from editing, it trapped me in a not-so-awesome place. And I have smashed through that monster. I know that what I wrote for the start of the month was pretty bad — there just isn’t any sort of story there.  But I kept pushing, and if I can write that many words of really terrible non-story, then I should definitely be able to write more of an actual story.

I’ve switched gears and am now working on a story that has already captured my attention more (in the first 400 words). It’s the first time in over a year that I’ve actually LIKED what I’ve written so… this year, no matter what, I’ve WON at NaNo.

I’ve been seeing some different posts out in the blog-sphere so I thought I’d share some of them with you —

I Think I’m a NaNo Failure

NaNoWriMo – Liberating or dangerous?

Raevenly Writes: Wierd Stuff


Do you have a favorite NaNo blog post?  What are your thoughts?

Insecure Writers Support Group: NaNo Is Upon Us!

wp-1462383471325.jpgThis is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a great group of supportive writers, helping one another through our writing ups-and-downs.

There is also a great Facebook Community for more daily connection!  More posts from the group are tagged on Twitter at #IWSG.



Whelp.  It’s here.  Today is the start of NaNoWriMo!  And, I actually have taken the day off of work!!  Some of that’s for the purpose of writing, some of it because I wanted to attend the Midnight Kick-Off Write-In in my area (and there is no way I can do such things and get up at 5:30 to get ready for work), and some of it is so I could get some errands done.

I’m mostly just excited about NaNo this year.  My local region is pretty active – with a number of write-ins planned each week, and a few larger events scattered about. Added bonus that they’re all happening at places I can actually get to! Since I only have occasional use of a car, being able to get to things via public transit is a HUGE bonus.

This is my attempt to jump back into fiction writing, after a years hiatus.  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get some good (and, sure, some bad) writing done and will get my creative juices flowing again.  Because, there’s a part of me that does want to step back into editing and rewriting the WIP that I had to put on the shelf last year.

That WIP actually started as a NaNo project.  And then got worked on again for NaNo another year. It’s the only NaNo (so far) that’s turned into a completed story (well, so far as being a full story with an ending and all).  But I fully expect that others will eventually get there. NaNo, for me, is usually much more about getting ideas on the page – a free-flow of story that often ends up being pulled apart and turned into multiple story seeds.

I’ve participated in NaNo 9 years, starting in 2006. I’ve “won” 4 of those. This year I’m hoping to win again, but know that I’ll win just by getting words on the page.  I am going to try to write every day (but know that there will probably be days where my writing consists of a few sentences). But that doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I’m writing.  That my words are finding their way onto a page at some point or another, and I’m opening up those windows and doors in my mind to let the ideas find their way in.

Are you NaNo’ing this year?  If you are, what is the thing you hope to get out of it?


Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Fear

I’m dipping my toes back into the writing world.  I’ve had to take a break, for a number of reasons (I talked a little about it in my Coffee Share this past weekend), but I know it’s time to start easing myself back into writing, of any form.

I’ve been thinking some about the kind of writing I do.  I have a deep interest in writing fiction, but the stories aren’t flowing as strongly as they once were. It’s probably a combination of things – my depression and anxiety have been running pretty rampant this year, and I’ve had a pretty full schedule between Jamberry work, my day-job, figuring out some health issues and social things. So my energy has been pretty drained, making it hard to muster up what I need to do my writing. There also is a distinct lack of “free time.” Not to mention I haven’t been reading as much (damn you, depression, making it so I am not able to really become engrossed in a book), which has traditionally been one of my fiction-writing-inspiration-points.

More and more, probably because of many of those same factors, I’ve been finding myself drawn to the idea of writing non-fiction. I have moments where I think that things I’m going through, things I have knowledge of, might be of interest to others.  But that instantly gets knocked down by fear (thanks anxiety). What if I don’t actually have something worth saying?  What if what I have to say isn’t of interest to anyone else?  What if… what if… what if…. And my writing ambitions get swallowed up by the fear that those things I have to say – some of them quite important to me and my life-journey -will be discredited and torn apart.  That someone will say that I’m wrong, and therefore, somehow, invalidate all that I think and feel on a topic.

It’s ridiculous, I know, but it’s a fear nonetheless.

When I’m writing fiction it’s easy (well, easier) to shrug things off if someone else doesn’t like what I’ve written.  “Not the target audience,” can be a wonderfully comforting phrase.  It’s also easier to separate from myself. While my fiction is certainly infused with my reality, drawing from what I ‘know,’ it is still something separate from myself. Non-fiction is much closer, at least the sort I’ve been thinking about writing, and so the risk factor becomes so much higher.


Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Not Insecure!


Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

It’s strange to be writing a post about insecurity as a writer when I haven’t been writing.

I’m still trying to get back to it, reclaim my drive and get writing – it’s taking its own sweet time but lately I’ve been being hit by a strange feeling.

Although I haven’t written fiction in MONTHS, and my non-fiction has remained in the stage of theoretical thoughts, I am NOT feeling Insecure about claiming the title of “writer.”  Though the words are not flowing from me to the page like they sometimes have — there are ideas gathering in my head.  I am finding myself people watching, imagining story-points, crafting images in my head that might end up translated to a story.

There are a lot of pieces that go into being a writer, and we all go through different phases at different times — it’s nice to, for once, be comfortable in the stage of writing I’m currently in. To not be worried that I am, somehow, doing it wrong.

Where are you in your writing this month?


This is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a great group of supportive writers, helping one another through our writing ups-and-downs.
There is also a great Facebook Community for more daily connection!  More posts from the group are tagged on Twitter at #IWSG.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Fresh Starts Aren’t Just for January

I’m pleased to be a Co-Host of this months Insecure Writer’s Support Group Posting Day!  It’s actually a really good month for me to be doing this, because if I weren’t co-hosting I would have been seriously tempted not to post at all.


Well, Confession time.

I set out in January with a goal to write 15 minutes of fiction everyday.  Free-writing, it could be anything – just writing fiction in hopes of “getting back to basics.”

Who can guess how successful I was at that?

Yeah… January had ups and downs, bits and pieces of projects old and new got completed.  A lot of organizing happened, but… very minimal fiction writing.

The longer I allow myself to stay away from fiction the more frightening the idea of going back.  When your writing is already something you’re unsure about it doesn’t take much to tip it over the edge.

I think the trick is to have clear goals and accountability.  Yes, there is a level of forgiveness to myself for not always meeting goals, but it can reach the point of excuses.

I spent a number of years not writing — always half working on a project, but never putting in real energy. It was easy to let go of that drive I once had, to allow it to fade to the background and bury myself in other projects.  If it was so easy, I ask myself, then does it mean I’m not actually driven to write the same way that those people who say they must write are?

No… it just means I write differently.  We all move at our own pace, and I need to allow myself to keep to the pace that is reasonable for me. It’s okay to give myself a break from writing if I am not feeling particularly motivated to write (particularly if I am feeling motivated to do things like read, or otherwise fill my creativity-coffers).

But I have spent a few months now letting myself refill those coffers (and binge-watch a few TV series as well).  I’ve stumbled a few times, made a few false starts on new fiction projects, and keep falling back to not-writing.  It’s reached the point where it’s painfully clear to me that I’m really just trying to procrastinate.  I’m holding myself back from making progress on the novel project I had been working on all summer and spring.

See, I hit this point in revisions where I realized there were some serious changes that I needed to make. Revisions and rewrites (again.. more…). It was important to take a break, but now I really do need to focus back in, put the real energy and effort into it that it deserves. It’s frightening to do so – what if I can’t get it right? What if it’s a terrible story? What if it’s just ALL wrong?

What if?  Well, yes, it might be terrible, it might be all wrong and I might fail at it… but I certainly will fail if I don’t put in the effort to do the rewrite, now won’t I?



Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeThis is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a great group of supportive writers, helping one another through our writing ups-and-downs.
There is also a great Facebook Community for more daily connection!  More posts from the group are tagged on Twitter at #IWSG.

Think Ink: by Rose B. Fischer!

Hey guys! This is Rose B. Fischer. You might know me from over on my blog of the same name. If not, it’s nice to meet you!

Last year, I blogged through an experiment in designing a drafting and revision process that works better for me than what I have been doing for. The blog series was known as Think Ink. This year, I’m doing another round of Think Ink focused on getting all my notes and research into a working order!  Alli invited me to share my posts here with you, so here I am.

I do a fair amount of pre-writing before I start a story. Most of it is actually in prose form rather than outlining and planning, though I do have an outlining system. I operate best when I work with both pantser and plotter methods.

The system I’ve been been using goes like this:

  • Get an idea.  Usually my ideas start as a bunch of random scenes that pop into my head about characters I’ve never met, or they start as a dream.  On rare occasions, I’ll just get an idea for a character, ponder for a few minutes, and have random scenes and imagery pop into my head.
  • Write Random scenes until I get a feel for the characters and situations, or alternately, roleplay my characters with a small group of friends.
  • Do a brain dump of everything I know, then analyze characters and world to see what I want to keep, change, or throw out.
  • Come up with a plot, then cycle back and forth between writing, plotting, and brain dumping out everything I’ve learned about the world.
  • Start having a meltdown because I have too many brain dumps and not enough organization of all my ideas, create a structured worldbuilding document in Word, then get frustrated because it’s too hard to keep updated.

So, clearly I need to find a better method of tracking and updating my notes.  I’ve tried lots and lots of things, including The Brain, keeping separate tabbed binders, notecards, keeping collections of documents on a private blog so everything can have hyperlinks to relevant stuff, and Trello.  None really do what I need them to do.

This time I’m experimenting with Scrivener, and this blog series will document the process. I’ll be here On the first and third Thursdays of every month.  The off-weeks I’ll actually be posting my worldbuilding notes on my blog for reference, so if this interests you, take a look.

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