Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Anticipation and Inspiration

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin' me late
Is keepin' me waitin'- Carly Simon

          I look for inspiration a lot because I’m not one of those writers with loads of delicious ideas teeming through my mind. I have one occasionally, and usually it’s one someone else already had and had better. I wrote most of a story once with a St. Bernard named Murphy as an important secondary character, but before the manuscript was even finished I read a book featuring a St. Bernard. Named Murphy. The book was better than mine, too, so I quit cold and waited for something else to come along and inspire me.
          Anticipation. Because I know it’s out there waiting. Somewhere. All I have to do is wait. And look around some. It will happen somet—
          There it is!
          I was at a meeting. The speaker was a doctor talking to us about women’s heart issues. She was a great lecturer—funny, intelligent, and relating well with her audience. But that wasn’t what inspired me. No, what lit the end of my writer’s pen was that she had gorgeous snow white hair.
          So I don’t have a grasp on what my heroine’s story is, or even her name. I’m not sure who the hero is. But I know the woman he doesn’t yet realize he loves will have thick white hair, dark blue eyes, and a smile that lights up the room.
          I sought inspiration all over Ireland, in its shades of green and the gazillion sheep with colors painted on their backs and the potato famine graveyards surrounded by dark iron fences. And in its pubs. I hardly even drink, but our trip included at least one pub a day, usually two, and occasionally three. They were lovely dark musical places, with soft brogues falling easy on our ears and sometimes children dancing with flashing feet and unmoving arms and shining eyes.
          The inspiration I sought did indeed “keep me waitin’ ” until the storefront of a particular pub in Kinsale provided an aha moment for a book called Back to McGuffey’s. McGuffey’s Tavern is in a Vermont town nestled into the Green Mountains, but it was born on a picturesque Irish street. This story of Ben and Kate and how they find each other again—or do they?—is my very first Harlequin Heartwarming and I am so excited.
          It’s hard to pin down inspiration, and sometimes it’s not a “know it when I see it” kind of thing. If I’m going to use a cliché (and I nearly always do), inspiration fits more into the “I don’t know art, but I know what I like” category. Because all of a sudden, it’s there, and I know it and it’s wonderful. Like the anticipation that led into it, it makes my heart sing.  And maybe dance a little.
        Liz Flaherty retired from the post office and promised to spend at least fifteen minutes a day on housework. Not wanting to overdo things, she’s since pared that down to ten. She spends non-writing time sewing, quilting, and doing whatever else she wants to. She and Duane, her husband of…oh, quite a while, are the parents of three and grandparents of the Magnificent Seven. They live in the old farmhouse in Indiana they moved to in 1977. They’ve talked about moving, but really…37 years’ worth of stuff? It’s not happening!




34 comments:


  1. Visiting Ireland is on my bucket list!
    I once wrote a children's book that had a purple dinosaur. LOL.
    Your book looks awesome!

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    1. Oh, no! Tell me you didn't name him Barney! Ireland's wonderful--I'd love to go back.

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  2. I love how you put my ideas into words...inspiration definitely overtakes me, and chasing around for it makes it hide. Annoying. So glad to see McGuffey's in print! Great story!

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    1. Thanks, Judith! I'm a little anxious to see it myself. :-)

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  3. I soooo want to visit Ireland, something about that place has called to me for a long time. And I'm with you on the inspiration - I don't know how to describe it but I know it when I see it. Great post, Liz, I can't wait to read this book!

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    1. Thanks, Kristi. You'll love Ireland, I promise.

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  4. Congratulations on your first Heartwarming book. It sounds intriguing. I loved Ireland! It's such a beautiful place with some of the friendliest people. I find inspiration in music. Songs triggers stories for me all the time. It can be one line in a song even. My current WIP is based off the song Not a Bad Thing by Justin Timberlake. I decided I needed a hero who was fighting for the heart of a woman who feared something bad would happen if she fell in love with him!
    Great post :)

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    1. Ah. I too, Amy, find such inspiration--and often titles, including my July 2014 book--from songs. One day in the supermarket I heard music playing in the background. And aha. There was the title from the song and the plot for a book. It's like magic. Got the idea for my first novel while sipping coffee one August morning after the kids left for day camp. The thing sprang, full-blown into my mind! It was almost scary. A good scary, though.

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    2. I've had that, too. I'm always surprised when music inspires me because I have a tin ear and because I have to have quiet when I write. (The other part of that story is it took me forever to be able to write in quiet after the last kid left home and took his noise with him! :-)

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  5. Your book looks wonderful, Liz. I'm inspired! It's true that we can never predict what or when inspiration will strike... only that we sense it when it happens. It's kind of like falling in love. You don't know who that person will be but when your heart knows... it knows.

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  6. So agree about what inspiration is. It's one of those things that is hard to wrap your mind around if you try to describe it, It just is.

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    1. I know--and what a gift when it happens!

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  7. Ireland seems to be on everyone's list of to-dos. Mine too. My mother's family came from Cork. In fact that was her maiden name. Anna Cora Cork. When she got miffed at me (quite often) she had a lovely brogue that I've never been able to master. Can't wait to read your book. And ideas don't find me as quickly as they used to. Now I have to hunt for them. I wonder why that is when they used to fall out of the sky.

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    1. My husband's family came from Northern Ireland--where we didn't go--but it still felt like home to me when we went there. That brogue is a lovely thing.

      I never DID get a lot of ideas, so that's one loss (unlike memory) I don't mourn, but my writing has certainly slowed down. Not sure whether it's too much internet or not enough discipline--or both.

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  8. What a beautiful cover and a great story! Inspiration comes from funny places and the way pieces drop together is hard to explain. If any place can inspire a story, it's Ireland. I've been once and will not be satisfied until I make it back!

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    1. Thanks, Cheryl. Isn't that cover great? I don't know who the artist is but I owe her/him big time!

      I want to go back to Ireland, but I also want to go to Scotland and a few other places. I'm not sure what will transpire, but I hope something!

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  9. Liz, congrats on your first HH book! Sounds fabulous. Those pubs you mention must be enjoyed. You're so right. It's not about the drink. I haven't made it to Ireland (yet) but did some English pubs and loved the ambience and the food. Have a lot of ancestors from Ireland too. Must be in the blood.

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    1. Thanks, Leigh! My son went to college for a year in England, and though he didn't say all that much about the classrooms, the dorms or other things pertinent to his mother, he did tell us the people who ran the pub would walk the students home rather than have them risk injury. I'd have loved it if he hadn't drunk at all, but since he did, I'll always be grateful to the bartenders who kept it comparatively safe.

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  10. How cool. Liz. Mostly, I'm inspired by dialogue. I hear a line and ding-ding, take off. The cover is cute, the blurb is wonderful. Good luck and congratulations.

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    1. Thanks so much, Vicki. I've had a line of dialogue give me more than one chapter beginning. :-)

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  11. Your story sounds intriguing! When the author KNOWS that this is a good one, I find that she's right. The white hair... I'm going gray, and I wish I could skip this "going" part and just jump straight to white. :) Beautiful!

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    1. LOL. If I could do the skipping part, my hair would be white instead of that natural blonde you see in my picture! My natural color is...well, kind of skunky. White in front, dark in back, so I doctor it.

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  12. According to many Nora Roberts books, Ireland is filled with mysterious little crannies where the laws of nature don't apply - so what a fine place to find inspiration; no rules, no edges on the box, so anything goes. Love reading about it. Many congratulations on your first Heartwarming - hope many will follow! And kudos on having a title that made it to publication. That hasn't happened to me yet. Also anxious to read it - you're such a good writer.

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    1. Thanks, Muriel! Ireland is definitely a magical place. We spent 48 hours on the Aran Islands and I wanted to stay for the summer (it was May at the time). I feel the same way about Vermont, and that's part of why McGuffey's is so special to me--it's got pieces of both places in it.

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  13. You had me at Ireland! Then you added a lost love that finds each other again...or do they? Now I'm hooked. I can't wait to read it. I was privileged to visit the Emerald Isle a couple of years ago and I WILL go back...I will I will *stomps feet*. I've got a great story all plotted out that has its beginnings in Ireland as well. So going back would be research, right?
    Congrats on your first book!

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  14. Thanks, LeAnne. Seems everyone who goes there wants to go back (except my husband, whose idea of travel is anywhere from which we can't be home by lunch.)

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  15. Liz, I am chiming in late so I don't know if you'll see this but what a wonderful post! I laughed out loud at your St. Bernard story. I've done that, too--thinking I had such an original idea! But I think it was Shakespeare who said there is nothing new under the sun, right? As a new author, this blog is often so helpful to me because I love hearing about other writers experiences. That's inspiring! But for me it comes from the characters. I see them--and especially hear them in my head, and then I go from there...

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    1. I love when they come and start talking to you! Thanks, Carol!

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  16. Loved the story of your inspiration for Back to McGuffey's and can't wait for release day! My problem is I have too many ideas! Have you seen AUTHORS ANONYMOUS? (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2114461/) I caught it on Netflix. Probably a movie only writers would like. The Dylan Walsh character reminds me of myself sometimes! *LOL* Keeps a recorder handy to record his novels which are nothing but one-liner ideas for books. Thankfully, I'm not that bad!

    Wishing you much luck with the upcoming book.

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    1. Thanks so much, Joan. I've always wished I did have more ideas, but I imagine if I did I'd find myself overwhelmed and have yet another whining point. :-)

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  17. Liz, I love your cover. It reminds me of my favorite restaurant in my home town. The restaurant is closed now, but I still have memories of it. I'll have to get this book, for more than the cover, but looking at it made me want to know more.

    Thanks.

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  18. Thank you, Shirley. I love the cover, too, and I hope you enjoy the book!

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