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Video Share – Backpacking on Cumberland Island

Posted by on May 23, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s that time again! Time to plot out the next novel in the series. Yes, I have an idea of how the story will go, and I have many scenes already in my head. However, the details are not finalized, and until I can visualize many of the scenes, I won’t fully dive into the writing.

That’s where nature comes in. I often get asked if the outdoors inspires my writing, as it plays an important role in the alternate reality I’ve created. My answer to that question is a definite yes. I love the outdoors and do most of my writing from spring through fall while sitting on one of my porches. (The winter months are not fun for me, as I hibernate indoors. It’s also the editing season. I hate cold weather and love southern humidity.)

Last month my family took our first backpacking vacation during my children’s spring break. We took a ferry to Cumberland Island, Georgia. We then hiked nine miles (was supposed to be seven but got a bit lost) and set up our tent. The following day we hiked to the beach and then had to do more hiking to gather water. We woke up early the next morning and hiked seven miles back to the ferry, and that was the end of our adventure.

During those long walks on the beautiful island and while living a primitive lifestyle away from people, I did a lot of thinking about Alissia’s story. The fourth book starts off with her backpacking through a dark forest, so I paid close attention to my surroundings while walking along the trails on the island. I took in the dry weather, the sounds of small scurrying animals, and the tropical foliage.

The same goes for the backpacking trip I took last weekend with my husband and a group of other hikers. While hiking near the waterfalls, I paid close attention to the purple flowers that had fallen along the trail, the small copperhead snake hidden in a rocky crevice, the beautiful white flowers in the trees, the wet, slippery stones that I almost fell on, and the mist coming from the falls, dampening their surroundings. I especially paid attention to the water holes at the bottom of the falls, as I have plans for using those details to create the setting in my current book. 

While hiking to our campsite on the first day with the family, my youngest children did some complaining (quite a bit, actually). However, when I asked them to help me design the creatures I’ll soon be writing about, my thirteen-year-old daughter surprised me by taking an interest. (The other two did not. There were a few eye rolls and comments about having an author for a mom. Apparently, our family conversations are not considered normal.)

It was fun to see my daughter create their size and special powers, along with many other details. I’ll be using many of her ideas and admit that I’ll be building off of her design for these creatures, and I’m very proud of her.

That same daughter created the video I’ve uploaded to Youtube, and I hope you’ll watch it. She did it all by herself. (Honestly, I have no idea how to use the iPhone app she used to create it. This was ALL her doing.)

Over the next month I’ll be savoring the outdoors. I plan to paddle board, hike, ride my mountain bike, and read/work poolside. It’s during this time of the year that Alissia’s story is truly perfected. I may look like I’m not working while doing these activities, but my mind is plotting away, getting the details just right.

Notice my two daughters reading while hiking on our first day? Obviously, the children of an author 🙂
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Check out my Latest Adventure. No Wi-fi Where I’m going!

Posted by on Jul 22, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I love to take my readers to a variety of environs in the worlds I create. Images of mountains, a castle, underground caverns, a ship, a tropical island, and even a horrifying bog go through their minds–just in the first three books of my Alissia Roswell Series! The fourth one, Unexpected Beginning, will add a wild forest, underground world, and a valley to the list.

I put a lot of effort in describing each setting, hoping to immerse my readers in Alissia’s reality, and I’ve received a lot of praise on that aspect. Nature plays an important role in my writing, and people often tell me they would love to live in a world with glowing flowers and stones instead of electricity.

With that said, I won’t be around wi-fi next week, as I’ll be taking my yearly break from reality and immersing myself in nature. This year’s outdoor adventure takes place on a boat, as we plan to spend a week sailing along the coast. I’ll post some pictures on Facebook and Instagram during the trip and will add a blog post when I return.

If interested, you can check out last year’s backpacking adventure on Cumberland Island, where I planned most of Unexpected Beginning during the many hours of hiking. I asked my children to help come up with some new creatures, and my oldest daughter gave me some great ideas.

I use all my senses to take in everything around me when I’m outdoors, and you can see that in my writing. For instance, there’s a certain clean smell that comes with waterfalls, along with the ferns and rocky terrain, where small vipers love to hide. Birds (or howler monkeys in the jungle) add to the waterfall sounds.

In my youth, I often camped along the banks of rivers and in swamps, where I would fall asleep staring up at the stars. A cool breeze, the sound of alligators croaking and their yellow, glowing eyes still come to mind (along with killer mosquitoes). I also spent many nights beneath a full moon on the beach, waiting for seine nets to be pulled in with their loads.

Sailing, backpacking, paddle boarding, biking, canoeing, kayaking, hunting, dune buggying (where my hubby screamed in terror the whole time I drove) or just sleeping in a hammock–they all get used in my writing. And now that I’m older and live in the suburbs of Atlanta, it’s even  more important to my sanity that I occasionally get away from modern comforts.

Perfection equals a starry sky, cup of hot tea, cool breeze, and the sound of waves against the boat. That’s where you’ll find me, typing away on my laptop–giving life to Alissia’s story.

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you know I have two new dogs (one from abuse). Don’t worry, though. I have family staying with them, so they’ll still be in their new home environment and on the same schedule. I plan to write a post in the future about them, highlighting the effects of trauma on dogs.

Be back soon! Live life to the fullest–get outdoors!

 

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Strange Conversations Authors Have with Their Children

Posted by on Jul 23, 2015 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

While the friends of my children think it’s “cool” that I’m an author, my children often shake their head in disagreement. In fact, they sometimes wish I were a “normal” mom. (At least, that’s what they say. I don’t believe they mean it. Nah, they really don’t mean it. I’m pretty sure of that.) This statement usually comes when they tell me they’re bored. I respond with, “Write a book in your head. That’s always fun.” I then get an eye roll and frown, but I continue to try to pull a story  from them.

Since I’m a lover of fantasy, our conversation usually shifts to me probing for what kind of creature could be hidden around us. Then I go into why they’re hiding. Unless we’re stuck in the car together or in a place where my children can’t walk away, they’re pretty much forced to listen to my fantasy ramblings. Otherwise, they walk away shaking their heads. Oh, and saying, “Mom, you’re not normal.” I smile and remind them to strive to be different.

They sometimes entertain me, though. It’s rare, but it’s beautiful when they do. I get to witness their imaginations go wild when they start describing creatures or going into a short story.

In fact, my thirteen-year-old daughter helped design the creatures I’ll be introducing in my fourth novel, Unexpected Beginning. We were on a family backpacking trip on Cumberland Island. The first day our little ones walked nine miles carrying their own bedding and supplies. The complaints of boredom started right after we got off the ferry, and I told them I needed help creating the creatures for my next book. They dismissed me at first, but hours later, my oldest daughter decided to walk beside me. We started talking about the book, and she surprised me with her creativity. I’m making a few changes, but her ideas are where I got the basic design for my latest creatures.

Then there’s my seven-year-old son. He was in bed with me one morning when he was about five years old. He told me he wanted to be a cover designer when he grew up, and then he began to tell me what his covers would look like.

He was with me the other night while I was doing some editing, and he picked up my warm tea and took a sip, looking over my shoulder. Then he said, “I think that word should be grin instead of smile, because it shows more extreme in the situation.” I made the change (it did flow better), and my son beamed with happiness.

He then challenged me to write a children’s book. I informed him that I kill people in my writing. He shook his head and told me I couldn’t do that. I told him to think of a story and then come back to me with a plot. I started giving him ideas, but he didn’t agree with any of them. It seems losing an arm, a dog dying, having all of one’s Legos stollen, etc. aren’t good stories in his opinion.

I told him that it’s my job to give my characters extreme happiness and extreme pain to even out the story. If I give a character Legos, then I need to kill his dog. That’s how I write. At this time, my son’s plots are a bit different. I’ll continue to work on that.

As for my middle daughter, she’s informed me that she hates writing (although I’ve found stories from both her and her sister that they’ve started). However, she’s an extreme fantasy reader, with dragons being her favorite. (Just like her mother!) I have faith that she’s filled with stories of her own. She’s just not interested in sharing them.

Let me know in the comments section below some of the creative conversations you’ve had with your children. Surely, we’re not the only family pulling creatures out of our heads 🙂

Here’s my girls on the trails. There’s always time for reading!
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Taking a Few Days Off the Internet for Backpacking

Posted by on Apr 4, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I’m taking a short break from the Internet this week to go backpacking with my family. Tomorrow we plan to take an early morning ferry to Cumberland Island in South Georgia, and I won’t be able to get online or have enough room in my backpack for my laptop. (There’s no service there anyway.) I’m completely unplugging and getting away for a few days, as my family needs this quiet time away from the distractions of reality.

Many of my readers often ask if I’m an outdoorsy person, because my novels have a lot of imagery involving nature in them. Alissia’s flashbacks of beach seining on Jekyll Island are actually my very own childhood memories, and I am very much in love with the outdoors. However, for me, that means hot and humid places and activities. I’m not a snow bunny and don’t enjoy skiing. I’d rather be drenched in sweat than shivering in the cold.

I’ll be back soon, and I hope to post some pics and maybe even a video when I return. (Maybe we’ll get to see some wild horses on the island.) Unexpected Peril is still with the editor, and the cover designer is doing an amazing job. I should get back feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work. I’ll also take a journal with me and hope to work on my plots while there. There’s nothing like sitting on a beach to get my creativity going.

Now I’m off to finish stuffing my pack! Enjoy your week, and hope you have an amazing and peaceful Easter weekend.

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