On Inspiration and Delivery: The Creative Process

Man in hiking gear sits on rocks and views mountains, a lake, and a sunset. The post's title, "On Inspiration and Delivery: The Creative Process" is superimposed on the top.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Writers sometimes joke that the worst question to get from readers (and one of the most common) is “where do you get your ideas from?”

I recently read Light the Dark, edited by Joe Fassler, (I received a complimentary copy from Penguin editor Sam Raim). One of the cool things about this book is the fact that it has lots of different writers’ thoughts on where they ‘get their ideas from’…and it doesn’t only cover inspiration, but creativity and the artistic process itself.

Inspiration is a tough subject.  It varies from writer to writer. Sometimes, I think, we don’t even realize exactly what inspires or influences us. In Neil Gaiman’s essay, “Random Joy” for the collection, he talks about this: Continue reading On Inspiration and Delivery: The Creative Process

Twitterific Writing Links

Bluebird with beak open and 'Twitterific Writing Links' by ElizabethSCraig superimposed on the image

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 40,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and sign up for free writing articles, on topics you choose, delivered to your email inbox!  Sign up for the Hiveword newsletter here.

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Setting the Scene for Mystery

A wooden dock leads off to some sunset-illuminated water and the post title, "Setting the Scene for Mystery" is superimposed on the top.

The setting for the Sgt. Windflower Mysteries is not just a prop or a way to entice the reader to enter the realm of these books, although I certainly hope that it does. It is much more than that. For me the setting is the story, at least the beginning of the adventure. It is the only part of the story that I control. I get to start the story by setting the scene. Once I begin the journey the characters come and tell me the rest of the story and I just write it down.

It’s been like that from the very first time I sat down on the wharf in Grand Bank, Newfoundland on the easternmost tip of Canada and gazed out into the fog at the blinking lighthouse. Sgt. Winston Windflower almost walked out of that fog and introduced himself to me and started telling me his story. Sure, I get to limit some character’s voices from time to time and maybe I have a little say over the moral lines that I will allow the characters to play within. But once I have the setting, that opening scene, the story flows on its own.

So, for me, the bigger question is not how the setting affects the story, but rather why an author would choose a particular setting. Because once that choice has been made a lot of things flow from that including the physical environment, the weather and what the characters can actually do during the progression of the story line. I chose the Grand Bank area of Canada because it is located in my home province and I wanted to describe the physical beauty of the natural surroundings and tell some of the history of the area.

I have tried to capture the beauty of the ever-moving ocean and banks of fog that linger on the horizon, but words can barely touch the canvas that creation has revealed to us. That’s why I always put a picture on the front cover that illustrates it far better than my words ever could. Like the lighthouse in Grand Bank on The Walker in the Cape and the boardwalk in Burin on The Body on the T. Or the fishermen’s wharf and fishing stages or rooms in Fortune on A Twist of Fortune. All real places that I have visited and that a reader can too by looking at the cover or reading the book.

The setting by the Atlantic Ocean also makes the weather a real character in all of the Sgt. Windflower Mysteries. It is almost always windy and the potential for some form of precipitation is high at any time of day or in any season. Both of those force people inside, sometimes for a meal, sometimes for coffee, sometimes just for shelter from a storm. It allows me to show people in close quarters where their interactions reveal more of themselves, their true selves and their intentions. Maybe even their motives…. Plus, it’s always a great opportunity to show off the delicious cuisine of the local area and maybe even a chance for Windflower to get a piece of his favorite chocolate peanut butter cheesecake.

For me, I simply couldn’t set the Sgt. Windflower Mysteries anywhere but in Newfoundland. It gives it the touch, texture, smell and feel of the ocean breeze blowing in my hair. The salt air wind whipping the bedsheets drying on the clothesline. It makes the characters come alive and hopefully makes them real to the readers as well. Come back to Grand Bank and experience it yourself in the latest adventure, A Tangled Web.

Cover shows a coastal village with the name of the book "A Tangled Web" by Mike Martin, superimposed on the front.
A Tangled Web is the latest book in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series set on the East Coast of Canada. The previous book in the Series A Long Ways from Home was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Award as the “Best Light Mystery of the year”.
“Life is good for Sgt. Wind­flower in Grand Bank, Newfoundland. But something’s missing from the Mountie’s life. Actually, a lot of things go missing, including a little girl and supplies from the new factory. It’s Windflower’s job to unravel the tangled web of murder, deceit and an accidental kidnapping that threatens to engulf this sleepy little town and destroy those closest to him. But there’s always good food, good friends and the love of a great woman to make everything better in the end.”
Photo via Visualhunt.com

Tips for Podcast Guests

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Podcasts have become very popular as both a promotional tool and an informational/networking tool for writers.

I know I don’t have the time to host podcasts, but I usually have the time to appear as a guest.  On average, I’ve been a guest on 2-3 podcasts each year (some of them audio-only, some of them with video).  I’m being interviewed this afternoon, too.  That’s because hosts need guests!  :)

Over the years, I’ve put more thought into my appearances (which are sometimes on video and sometimes audio only).  Here are some of my tips for being a better guest:  Continue reading Tips for Podcast Guests

Twitterific Writing Links

Bluebird with beak open and 'Twitterific Writing Links' by ElizabethSCraig superimposed on the image

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 40,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and sign up for free writing articles, on topics you choose, delivered to your email inbox!  Sign up for the Hiveword newsletter here.

Continue reading Twitterific Writing Links