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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