Silent Rock

Greetings fellow story lovers,

I felt it again yesterday while hiking–the heartbeat of the woods. Does the pulse I feel come from all the creatures watching as I walk down their sun-dappled trails, or from all the past creatures that have lived here? Did they, too, enjoy watching the woods change with the seasons?
In the winter, icicles hang frozen as if time stopped the instant they formed. I imagine Ho-Chunk villagers gathered in a crude cave near the fire telling stories. Two sisters huddle together to stay warm and laugh as a boisterous man animately tells about nearly stepping on a hibernating bear. On the longest night of the year, they would have hours for storytelling.
In the spring, the Dogtooth violets come out. I pick them and envision a girl stooping to do the same. She weaves them into a crown, then laughs at something her raven-haired friend says. The violet-laden girl places the crown on her friend’s head and they dance in the sunshine.

In the summer, I look up toward the ridge. There, in the trunk of that pine tree, I visualize the face of a Ho-Chunk hunter. I imagine him preparing arrowheads while his wife weaves a basket. Two children chase one another around the trees and up and down the slopes, laughing.
In autumn, I listen to the geese migrating overhead and wonder if the hunter’s arrow could bring one of them down. A fast-moving stream evokes the picture of a young boy tying a hook made from a goose’s wishbone onto a string of sinew. He baits the hook, then throws it out where it’s swept downstream. He doesn’t have to wait long before there’s a tug and he pulls in a shiny trout.
Silent Rock is misnamed. The aura surrounding the place speaks volumes to me. Storysharer would love to hear about places that speaks to you.
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Moth Tears

Greetings fellow story lovers,
Poet Ted Kooser inspired my muse with the following poem.
Lobocraspis Griseifusa

    This is the tiny moth who lives on tears, who drinks like a deer at the gleaming pool at the edge of the sleeper’s eyes, the touch of its mouth as light as a cloud’s reflection.  –Ted Kooser
I have seen many wondrous sights in nature.  My first occurred when I was a teenager rabbit hunting with my father.  I glanced up at a nearby snow-covered hill and saw a brilliant red fox.  I took in every strand of his bright fur, his alert ears and moist eyes.  For a second before he darted away, we looked at one another, snapping together a link in the chain of life.
After that moment, I paid closer attention to the mysteries in nature, marveling at all I could see and all that wasn’t revealed.
Blazed in my memory is the time a few years ago when I awoke early, looked out the cabin’s window to the lake, and saw five river otters playing along the shore.  That following winter, while skiing through the woods, I encountered an otter again, this time bounding through the snow like a deer.  On another skiing adventure, I spotted a face appearing to be a mix between a fox and a teddy bear and got my first glimpse of a pine martin.
I’ve observed turkeys strutting and ruffed grouse drumming, a rare Hawaiian goose honking and a mongoose prowling, but I’ve never had a moth, whose mouth is as light as a cloud’s reflection, drink from my tears.
I’ve kayaked next to a beaver, heard it slap its tail sounding like a gun shot, found its lodge, leaned my ear toward the cozy hut made from sticks and mud, and been treated to the sound of the babies inside mewing like newborn kittens.
Several springs ago while hiking alone near our cabin, I spotted a fawn still wet from birth.  I bent down on my knees, and, wonder of wonders, the fawn approached me.  I held out my hands and felt a surge of joy unlike any other as it licked my fingers.  I ran to tell my husband and when we returned, my joy was complete as it tottered toward me and later wanted to follow me home.

This fawn seemed to want to say hello and even licked my hand.

I’ve had a newly born fawn lick my fingers, but I’ve never had a moth uncurl its straw and take life as it licks away my tears.
I’ve seen mint-green luna moths flying in the moonlight and watched hatching painted lady butterflies unfurl their wings.  I’ve spotted mated turkey vultures flying into their cave nesting site.  I’ve witnessed young great horned owls and newly fledged ospreys peer over their nests, as if anxious for their adult life to begin.  Mating eagles and sandhill cranes have performed elaborate courting dances in my presence.
I’ve walked the same hiking paths as moose, elk and buffalo.
Once, I unknowingly shared a blueberry patch with a black bear.
Yet I’ve never had a moth light on my cheek while I slept and drink at the gleaming pool of my tears.
Or have I?
Storysharer would love to hear bewildering questions you ponder.
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Writing is Like Hatching an Egg

Greetings fellow story lovers,
Two ducklings hatched out of my incubator this spring. I love this project. Although it demands hard work and patience, it can produce joyous results.  The same is true of the writing process.
Stories begin with ideas. The fertile mind incubates a nucleus of an inspirational thought, rotating it in the mind so it’s warmed thoroughly. The shell is fragile and the wise writer doesn’t open herself up to criticism by speaking of her project until it’s fully formed. The project needs to be turned several times a day (28 days for ducks) until the last three days of incubation, when the writer sits at her computer and hunkers down. The pipping of the shell can take hours, but then, oh glory, she greets the warm sun, waving her rough copy to the heavens.

Amy with newly hatched mallards, Maynard and Mallory

She looks around. This needs tightening, that subplot isn’t working. Once fully dry and feeling fluffy, she’s ready to introduce herself to the world. She may waddle about, quack via blogs or face to face, and meet fellow story lovers.
To view my excitement when my first mallard hatched, check out Maynard’s entry to the world at http://bit.ly/JnvKYo.
Storysharer would love to hear tips about your writing process.
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Inspiration

Inspiration

Greetings fellow story lovers,
What gets your creative juices flowing? Where are you when inspiration strikes? Among my favorite times in life are those moments when I’m driving along on a long quiet stretch of highway and my mind starts whirling with ideas. It also happens in the bathtub, upon wakening, at my computer early in the morning, and while walking my dog in the woods or horseback riding. I keep paper and pen or my mini-recorder handy because even though I think it’s such a brilliant thought I couldn’t possibly forget it, I will.

Do you ever get writing ideas from the newspaper? The seed that sprouted EYE OF TRUTH, my first of five books in the Kayla Montgomery series, was seeing this article in the newspaper. In it, a daughter and son are searching for a will after the death of their mother. Instead, they open the steamer trunk they’d been warned to stay away from as children, and find a baby skeleton.

In my story, Kayla’s Aunt Maggie owns the horse ranch where Kayla spends a lot of her time. Aunt Maggie delivers a daughter but baby Ashley is kidnapped from the hospital.

Kayla suspects Cora Hatcher, whose description was inspired by this newspaper picture. I’ve written “eyes that pop out” as a note to myself. That later became so important it’s used in the title.
Kayla sneaks over to Cora’s trailer to search. She sees a trunk with a heavy rope knotted around it. She unties the knot and opens the trunk. Inside is a baby skeleton and a fresh pink rose.
Developing the real kidnapper, and that person is even crazier than Cora, was inspired by a real life event. Details would spoil the story but they’re available, along with paperback copies and free teacher guides and/or book discussion questions by contacting laundrie@live.com.

Storysharer would love to hear what inspires you!
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Painting Word Pictures

wall

Greetings fellow story lovers,
Even though there are times when I wish my imagination wasn’t so active, it is a great tool for storytelling.
Ever since I began trail riding in isolated woods, I’ve been terrified that my horse and I will be attacked by dogs. My imagination paints a vivid picture of the horse rearing up, unseating me and sending me crashing to the ground in the midst of viscous Rottweilers. While I’d rather not dwell on that scenario, I drew upon it while writing the fifth Kayla Montgomery mystery series, WOLVES IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING.


Kayla becomes lost while trail riding. She passes a house and is terrified when two Rottweilers charge toward her. The scene is rich with details because I’ve “seen” it many times. Readers tell me that they, too, can visualize it.
Just before Kayla flees, she sees an old woman’s face in the window. The women mouths the words “Help me.” Will Kayla return to investigate? Your powerful imagination can complete the story.
Free WOLVES IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING teacher guides and/or book discussion questions are available by contacting laundrie@live.com.
Storysharer would love to hear how your imaginings have led you to stories.

inspirational woman
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What If . . .

Greetings fellow story lovers,

What if . . . are magic words to writers and story tellers. What if an animal attraction with over 100 live reptiles including crocodiles, unusual albino iguanos, and the world’s largest snake caught on fire?

snake

This question led to my interviewing the owner and began the fourth Kayla Montgomery book, LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION.

From that question others emerged including a compelling one about love and attraction. What if my main character had to choose between a relationship based on intrique and seduction or one built on mutual interests and companionship?
Free LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION teacher guides and/or book discussion questions are available by contacting laundrie@live.com.
Storysharer would love to hear how compelling “What if…” questions have inspired you.
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Passion

Greetings fellow story lovers,

What makes you grind your teeth, giggle like a hyper kid, or hiss like a panther? What makes the hair on the back of your neck tingle, your fingers dig at your scalp, or your throat ache with sadness? These intense feelings can be the origin of impassioned stories.

Egg

A friend once described to me how concerned she was about a neighbor’s neglected horses. They didn’t have grain, hay, or water. The owner hadn’t trimmed their hooves and they’d grown so long the hooves actually curled around themselves. She reported the neighbor to the humane society. He retaliated by sneaking over and cutting her horses’s hooves so short that all that remained were painful nubbins.
This horrendous story led to the premise for the fourth Kayla Montgomery mystery series book, DELIVER US FROM EVIL.

Kayla must drive past Vern Schafner’s horse farm on her way to college. The horses are starving and can’t walk because of their overgrown hooves.Kayla reports him. The scene describing Vern’s retaliation is one of the most terrifying and emotion-laden scenes I’ve ever written.
The best stories bleed with passion and emotion. As writers and story tellers, dare to go to your dark spaces, even if it’s painful. Draw out your feelings, and you’ll connect with your readers.

Free DELIVER US FROM EVIL teacher guides and/or book discussion questions are available by contacting laundrie@live.com.
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