When inspiration hits in the most unusual of places…

Today as I laid down in the bed, my daughter handed me this toy (picture above). I remember buying this for my daughter about two years ago at JC Penny. At the time I thought it was cute. I still think that it’s cute. What’s not to like? It’s a tiny lamb with giant spectacles and vivid sparkling green eyes. It’s wearing a blue blazer over a gray dress. At the time, I thought that it looked like a teacher. I even thought it would be an excellent prop for my online teaching.

But today, I glanced at it and I saw another use for it. I’m talking about the children’s book that’s still in my head. No, it hasn’t been written down yet. I made an attempt to write a few paragraphs. But then I deleted those paragraphs the next day. I wasn’t happy with that attempt.

But I think this stuffed animal — this toy — could be a character in my children’s book. I spent the next hour or so just imagining and thinking about it. It’s a writer. It has been stuck in this house for a long time when it encounters —-

I see it as a writer. As an old, spinster lady who loves cats. Okay, maybe that’s too much of a stereotype.

But the point is, I think I got my second main character! I was originally going to write about a group of mouse-sized people who functions as a family. But this will work much better. Less people for one. For another, I can develop this character better.

I will try to write again tonight while my baby boy is sleeping.

I just love ideas that come to you randomly from the most unexpected places and people.

The Secret in the Basket — Part Two

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(Click here to read Part One!)

“You made it,” Candice said blankly.

The man with the cowboy hat was in front of her now. He was holding an ugly, shabby picnic basket with both hands. The picnic basket was closed. She wondered curiously what was in it. Could this be the clue, the key, that would help her find her past? A past that she knew nearly nothing about.

The man nodded. Now that he was closer, she could see that he was older than her. He was in her fifties, at least. He had a scuffed chin, brought about from years and years of shaving and hard work. He had brown, wavy hair that was parted at the side. But he hardly had any neck. His head was just connected to his big, beefy chest. He almost looked like a robot. Indeed, she expected him to blurt out something in an monotonous tone of voice. But despite that, she could tell that he was once handsome. His skin was shiny, silky even. He didn’t have a trace of gray in his fine, brown hair.

She just stared at him, waiting for him to say something, but all he did was merely extend the basket toward her.

She raised her eyebrows at him, but still didn’t take the basket. He nodded at her, waiting patiently it seemed. Until finally, she leaned forward and grabbed it from his hands. He let it slip from his hands ever so willingly. As the transfer happened, she felt not only the weight of the basket but the weight of the past ahead of her.

“Thank you,” she said, clearing her throat.

He nodded, and then made to turn away, but she shouted, “Wait, don’t go, come back!” She would have grabbed his arm, but the full weight of the basket hindered her from doing so.

Keeping his back toward her, he finally spoke in a raspy voice: “I have to go. What is in the basket unlocks the secrets to your past.”

As she stood there, struggling to process his words, the man with the cowboy hat walked away, until the sound of his footsteps on the bridge couldn’t be heard anymore.

She looked down at the basket. Slowly, she set it on the ground. She crouched down beside it so that she could open it. Holding her breath, she lifted the flaps one by one. It was dark inside the basket. Peering closely, she saw that there was a black kitten sleeping on the floor of the basket.

A kitten? How could a kitten help her? Why did she listen to the instructions in the letter, which told her to meet a man in a cowboy hat on this very bridge in the middle of the jungle?

The Meeting at the Bridge — Part One

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Glancing quickly at her watch, Candice frowned and then scurried forward. He was late. She had told him. He was late, probably for the tenth time in a row. Frustrated, she tightened her fingers over the car keys that were still clutched in her hand. He was always late. Always.

Shrugging, she walked forward. She heard the bridge squeak under her feet and she gave an involuntary shudder. This bridge was sturdy, wasn’t it? It wasn’t just going to collapse under her. She had to trust that it could support her wait. It had to. Today was a very important day.

A very important day. She was meeting him today. Only, he was late. As usual. She sighed. What could she do? Of course, the most logical thing to do was to call or text him. But he didn’t have a phone. What twenty-something man didn’t have a phone?

He didn’t. He was a man who constantly reminded her of the all-consuming power that technology had over her — and the world. He refused to be swallowed up by the incredible force of technology, no matter how shiny the gadgets were.

She sighed, rubbing her thumb over the latest Samsung Galaxy phone. She had just bought the latest one with her hard earned money and she was so proud of it. It was sleek and beautiful and glossy. It was safe to say that she was in love with her phone.

She took a few more step forward, and as she did so, she heard the floorboard creak beneath her feet. She tried to ignore it, focusing instead on the trees around her. The color of the trees signaled the near end of summer. But it was still hot, blisteringly hot. That thought reminded her of how hot it was. She wiped her glistening forehead with the ends of her sleeves, a habit that she had since childhood.

Oh, why did she have to live somewhere so hot? As soon as this thought crossed her mind, a light zephyr blew over the bridge. She paused to embrace this light wind, a bit of respite from the heat. But as quickly as it came, it was gone and all she was left with was the hot heat.

Sighing, she walked forward, much more quickly this time. She could see the end of the bridge from her position. She just had to go a few more steps and then she would wait. Wait for what? she thought.

Wait for him, she answered. She had to because he had the answers to everything. He was going to bring her something that, he said, would unlock the keys to her past. She was adopted so she didn’t know much about that. But after today, that would no longer be the case.

Finally, finally, she was the end of the bridge. She looked down and had to suppress a shudder. She really was so high up. It was just her, the bridge, the trees, and this godawful heat. She really hoped that he would hurry up.

And just as she thought this, she heard the sound of some footsteps on the bridge that could only mean one thing: it was him.

She slowly turned around, ready to greet him. She was ready to meet the thing that held the answers to everything.

She saw him wearing a huge cowboy hat, with a wide brim. She let her eyes wander down to the little basket he was carrying in his arms.

What on Earth was in that basket?

(to be continued)

The Eye

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The eye stares at me, unblinking. It is a most beautiful eye. It is a mix of blues and greens swirling around a big black sea. I can almost see the movement of the colors, like the waves in the sea. I can see these waves waving at me. It is mesmerizing and I can’t look away. But how long can I keep staring at this eye? How long will it keep staring at me?

Winning NaNoWriMo

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Every November, I participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). What is NaNoWriMo, you ask? It is a collaborative writing forum consisting of thousands millions of writers all around the world. It is an awesome and unique experience, uniting us all around a common goal: to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days — one month.

I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo every year since 2011. This is my fifth year participating and the first time I ever successfully completed and finished my novel. I concluded my NaNoWriMo novel at 58,475. That’s right. My novel has a beginning, middle and end. I printed all 199 pages of my manuscript out and will start editing in January, after a delicious break in December.

During this year’s NaNoWriMo, I’ve learned how important it is to keep writing no matter. Sometimes it’s important to skip around and write the ending before the beginning. But the most important thing I’ve learned is that NaNoWriMo is not just about churning out that perfect New York Times bestselling novel. It’s about getting to know your characters. Characters will scrabble. Characters will fight. But you’ve got to let your characters figure things out.

As a self-diagnosed perfectionist, I’ve often struggled to write a first draft novel that is perfect on the first try. But in reality, that is rarely the case. Writers write and then write again and again and again. Words are added, deleted, evaluated, omitted. Writing is constantly a process of trial and error. In the past, I expected perfection but in reality  you have to allow your characters, words, scenes to evolve and change each other.

This past November, I wrote as I did during my previous NaNoWriMo’s. In the past, I admit that I cheated by, for instance, not using contractions and thus creating two words instead of one. But this November, I didn’t. And I think I know why.

In the past, I was always more of a pantser instead of a planner. But this year, I vowed that things would be different. So, one day in October, I sat down, opened up my Google Drive and created a new document. I then set about writing up an online complete with chapter titles.

What this did for me was give me a path to follow. I was no longer writing in the dark. I wasn’t just blindly letting my characters take me where they wanted to go. Instead, I was writing within the confines of a plot that I had outlined. Within these confines, my characters were allowed to move forward while getting to know one another. It was a win-win situation. My characters were allowed to go for their dreams and my novel was right on track.

I’m taking a break in December and will begin the editing process in January. The editing process is completely new to me but I’m excited to meet it head on and embrace its many challenges. I’m excited to see where my novel and characters will go from here. Maybe my novel will never get published. But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I wrote a novel from beginning to finish in a month and then I edited it. I got to immerse myself in an entirely new world of my own unique creation.

And that is the point of writing. Writers are not in it to just make money or become famous. They do it because they love it. So, if you enjoy writing, creating new worlds, transforming characters, then this is for you. Writing is a creative hobby. You can’t get rich off it so you need to enjoy it.

www.nanowrimo.org