Round-About Inspiration

I am fortunate. This I know. In all the years I’ve been writing, I’ve never lacked for a plotline, the time or the drive to develop it into a novel. I never have fewer than two ideas waiting for their turn in the spotlight. Again, I’m fortunate enough to have the time to go along with the imagination–something I never feel the need to justify, or would dare to squander. That’s why I write everyday.

The  original spark for Seeking Carolina started with a writing-group prompt a couple of years ago. The scenario was, “What do you do when someone else gets what you wanted most?” Up popped Johanna and her sisters, and the locket they were all promised. Once again during writing group, the very-talented Renee Paley-Bain told us that she needs to get her hands in the dirt. Gardening is her solace and inspiration…and up popped Benny, the young widow in Dreaming August, who plants a graveyard garden and talks to ghosts. Discussing with my son how awesome it would be to, one day, live in an old-folks-home populated by writers sparked Traegar’s Lunatics, a novel unconnected to any of the others; I can’t wait to write it, but I have to finish Waking Savannah, the third book in The Bitterly Suite, as well as write the fourth, Being Charlotte. Then, thought I, would be the old-writers-home book…maybe. Because last week, while reading the latest edition of RWR (Romance Writer’s Report,) most specifically, the article about series work, a new novel was born.

There are plusses and minuses to writing in a series. A minus is getting pigeon-holed, being stuck writing in one place, with one basic set of characters, because that’s what your readers want. Well, readers wanting more is fabulous, of course, but writing in the same place for too long begins to lose its shine–especially when one is writing about a small town. The antidote for that, the article said, could be a spin-off series…spark!

Out popped Tabitha, foil for a grown-up Caleb, who appeared in The Bitterly Suite as an incidental character. The bakery first introduced in Seeking Carolina is located in Cape May, New Jersey, a gorgeous little sea-coast, Victorian town. Bitterly, Connecticut and all her locals are still present, though nebulously. Transplanting Caleb to Cape May brings both series together, while giving me a new world to write in. Now, Charlotte and Peter’s story is no longer Being Charlotte but Cape Maybe, first in the Bitterly’s Bachelors series, followed by Caleb and Tabitha in Wayward Point, and Will and Vanessa in Ocean’s Edge. Once the first novel melds The Bitterly Suite to Bitterly’s Bachelors, I can move away from the Bitterly completely and settle in Cape May. How cool is that?? I’m pretty stoked.

Never lacking for a story is a wonderful thing; keeping focused on one while the others nudge you in the back isn’t quite as wonderful, but it’s still pretty fabulous. I never know when inspiration is going to strike, but I love when it does. What about you? Where does your inspiration come from?



Filed under Writing is Life

13 responses to “Round-About Inspiration

  1. I hope you’re going to write about a lighthouse in RI. 😛

    I’m inspired by everything (ha), but the biggest source are other people’s stories (go figure!), particularly traumatic experiences. Either that or crazy things I read in the news (and there is plenty of that). Then I add my own dark twists on it and voila, entire fantasy world. 😀

    I’m so glad to see you writing all of these great things! Looking forward to reading your new books. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really enjoyed this post, Terri. I have to admit, I’m envious of you and the time you have to devote to writing. Writing every day is a luxury I never had until this semester with my sabbatical; I will miss it dearly when I go back to campus next fall.

    So many different things inspire me – too many to list here. As your post so aptly points out, a story can come from anywhere. The trick is to be open to those sparks of inspiration when they arise. 🙂

    Hope you’re having a great weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      It is a luxury I honor, Karin. I truly do. I know there are a lot of writers who want to write more than anything in the world, but have to put it second to something. Even third, or tenth.
      Enjoy this time! Not only time, but your darling husband and gorgeous Costa Rica. Inspiration, galore!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Terri – this is wonderful! So true we never know where a bit of inspiration will come from. We just need to remember or write it down! Thanks for the inspirational post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Thank you, Lynn. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

      I have to write the inspiration down when it hits, while it’s still buzzing around like a swarm. If I don’t, I lose something. Sometimes, I even lose the inspiration completely. It’s like writing it down cements it, makes it something more than just an idea.


  4. Since I started writing, I unintentionally find myself getting lost in other people’s word, comments, nuances. It’s like everywhere you look, there’s a story waiting to be told. I like how you laid out all the little pieces that took you to Seeking Carolina. Like Lynn said, writing it down is important and my downfall. I’m wondering how many stories I’ve lost sight of because of that. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      There is, isn’t there, Sharon? I can see why some writers frequent public places–everywhere you look, another story is happening.

      Thanks! XX


  5. Cemeteries 🙂 The older the better – European cemeteries have endless history and stories just waiting to be told.


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Oh, yes. Cemeteries! I love them. I took my girl scouts to the cemetery in town when they were six or so, to do a history badge. We did a lot of field trips. Ask any one of them to this day and they will say the cemetery was their favorite.


  6. You’ve touched on something I’ve long believed to be true. The words we read in the books we choose (or the ones that choose us), the images we’re exposed to & the dreams we conjure are food. And writers need to be fed. The hungrier we are the more likely it is that the magic will find us.

    This is why I am an advocate of the notebook. It’s a cliché but like most clichés – it’s true: the notebook is the writer’s greatest friend. I take my Blackberry with me these days when I’m walking simply because it’s so easy. At home though, it’s a series of beautiful notebooks. Record everything – you never know what it will become. Discard nothing – Dead Darlings have a a way of reincarnating!

    My inspiration comes from a variety of sources. Usually it’s a ‘prompt’ of some description – succinct & random – a moment of ‘shiny’ I scoop up like a magpie. A picture in my head placing a character I hardly know but cannot resist in a place I only half recognise. Because I am destined to find out more & fall in love.

    Talking to ghosts in a garden… well, how about that, cariad? *Grins*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      I’ve lost a few darlings along the way, even when I wrote them down. There was a story I was so stoked to write, but chose A Time Never Lived instead–and never went back to it. Now, I’ve lost all passion for it. It might reanimate, one day, but so far–nope. That’s what I DON’T want to happen with Traegar’s Lunatics. I want to write this one SO BADLY! I might even do it next, considering the timeline of the books coming out through next year. But I also don’t want to lose momentum on these. Argh! This is the problem with too many stories! Poor me, right? hahaha!
      XX cariad!


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