USA, Writing

Writing Inspiration | Other-Worldly Landscapes

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Surreal colors on the Blue Mesa trail at the Petrified Forest National Park.

In addition to writing cozy mysteries, I also dabble in sci-fi and fantasy stories. It might seem like a strange combination of genres, but I love to read and write both. I’ve also managed to incorporate my love of sci-fi into my cozy mystery series in a humorous way with the occasional investigation of alien abductions and unexplained lights.

In 2014-2015, we traveled from the west coast to the east coast in the States in search of our next sailboat. Along the way, we visited some of our amazing National Parks where I discovered landscapes that seemed so surreal that at times I thought I was on another planet.

Yes, I have an overactive imagination. But if you saw these rock formations, wouldn’t you wonder if you had been transported someplace else?

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Hoodoos at Arches National Park

These remind me of an evil version of tribbles. You know, those cute furry things from Star Trek that reproduce like crazy?

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Cholla cacti in Joshua Tree National Park.

Aliens have definitely landed a spaceship here.

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Salt flats at Death Valley National Park

Traveling not only opens up one’s mind and broadens one’s perspective, it also sparks the imagination. I’ve got a million story ideas bubbling away just looking at these pictures.

What inspires your creative pursuits?



Writing Inspiration | Coconuts

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The marina we keep our boat at in southern Florida has lots of palm trees, which gives it a nice tropical feel. Coconuts fall down from the trees and lie waiting for people to grab them, cut them open, and enjoy the coconut milk and flesh. Some of the dogs at the marina like them too.

I didn’t really think much about the coconuts until Hurricane Matthew threatened the area in 2016. One of the things that the marina staff did to prepare for the potential hurricane was to lop the coconuts off of the trees so that they wouldn’t go flying off in strong winds and cause damage.

It got me thinking that coconuts can prove hazardous even in normal conditions. If you happen to be walking under one of the trees when one of the coconuts falls off, it could be painful, maybe even deadly.

Coconuts inspired the setting of my cozy mystery series, which is set in a fictional small town in Florida called Coconut Cove. It’s a popular tourist area, but the locals have to warn visitors to be careful of falling coconuts, and, every so often, a tourist gets hit by one.

I decided it would be fun to work in falling coconuts into the plot of the first book in the series, Murder at the Marina. Everyone thinks that the main character, Mollie McGhie, got hit by a coconut, but she’s not so sure.

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What inspires your creative pursuits?


Writing Inspiration | Press-On Nails

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Sometimes, inspiration for my writing can come from most unlikely places. Like the time I was walking through Walmart, looking for moisturizer, when I stumbled across a display of press-on nails. I was mesmerized by all of the colors, patterns, and designs. For a few moments, I was tempted to buy some and add instant glamour to my life.

Then I remembered that I live on a sailboat. Boat life can be hard on your nails, especially when you’re in the midst of boat projects. Long nails and manicures aren’t all that practical for me. So, I put the sparkly nails back on the rack.

While I continued with my shopping, I thought about press-on nails and a wedding we attended many years ago. One woman started off the evening with long nails, but by the end of the evening, after one too many glasses of champagne, she had pulled them all off, scattering a few on the floor.

I tossed a couple of chocolate bars into my cart and wondered if I could somehow incorporate press-on nails into my cozy mystery, Murder at the Marina Ideas kept running through my head — What if a press-on nail was found at a murder scene? Who would that implicate? What color would the nail be?

Before I knew it, I had the makings of a new scene fleshed out. I picked up a bag of spinach to counteract the chocolate bars, hit the check-out line, and headed back to the boat to get it all down on paper. Who knew grocery shopping could be so inspiring.

What inspires your creative pursuits?